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What is Ebola? What are its symptoms? And how can you catch it?

What is Ebola?

Ebola is a serious disease, caused by a virus, that can cause internal bleeding.
It currently mainly affects West Africa, specifically the countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. But there have been rare cases reportedly elsewhere in the world.

What are the symptoms of Ebola?
They can include:
• fever
• headache
• abnormal bleeding
• joint and muscle pain
• intense muscle weakness
• vomiting
• diarrhoea
• stomach pains.

Fighting Ebola

Fighting Ebola

How soon do symptoms appear?

They start suddenly and occur between 2 and 21 days after becoming infected. Contact a doctor immediately if you notice these symptoms and have recently been to West Africa, or have been in contact with someone who has.

How can you catch Ebola?

Ebola isn’t airborne. The disease can only spread through direct contact with an infected person. It can be passed on through close bodily contact and fluids, like blood, urine, semen, and vomit. It can also enter the body through broken skin and the mucous membranes in the nose.

Are there any other ways to catch Ebola?

It’s not just the living who can transmit the disease; the dead can also pass it on. For that reason, burial ceremonies involving contact with the corpse play a key role in spreading Ebola.
Animals can also be infected. Ebola outbreaks often begin with human contact with an infected animal. Gorillas, chimpanzees, fruit bats, monkeys, forest antelopes and porcupines are most susceptible to the disease.

What should I do if I think I have Ebola?

If you do start showing the symptoms of Ebola, contact a medical centre immediately and follow their advice closely. Keep away from others so they don’t contract the disease and be careful with your vomit, diarrhoea and other bodily fluids to prevent the disease spreading.

How can I protect myself from Ebola?

Although you cannot be  protected 100% against Ebola, you can take steps to significantly decrease your chances of catching it:

Avoid physical contact with anyone who is or may be infected. If that’s not possible, wear gloves and other protective clothing and avoid direct skin-to-skin contact. These protective items should then be carefully disposed of.

Always wash your hands thoroughly and regularly with soap and clean water. Read more about how hand washing can prevent disease<link to hand washing article>

3 tips to avoid Ebola

  1. Be vigilant. Be aware of the people around you and be on the lookout for Ebola symptoms.
  2. Be careful. Limit your contact with others as much as possible. Do not touch bodily fluids.
  3. Be thorough. Hand hygiene is one of the ways you can help prevent catching this disease. Read more about Why washing your hands can prevent disease <Why washing your hands can prevent disease>

Myths about Ebola

Myth: Ebola can be transmitted by mosquitos.
Fact: It can only be transmitted between mammals.

Myth: Ebola is airborne.
The disease can be spread only through close bodily contact.

Myth: You can catch Ebola from drinking water.
Ebola is not a waterborne disease.