Ebola

Ebola is a viral, tropical infectious disease which mostly occurs in Central and West Africa.

Overview

Ebola is a viral, tropical infectious disease which mostly occurs in Central and West Africa. It often has a life-threatening, haemorrhagic progression with severe internal and external bleeding. A mild attack presents with flu-like symptoms. To prevent contracting this virus, don't get too close to or eat wild animals during trips to the tropics.

Symptoms

  • Incubation period: Usually 8-10 days
Mild progression
Severe disease course (often)
  • Haemorrhage (bleeding), coagulation disorders
    • Heavy external and internal bleeding
    • Red dots on skin (petechiae)
    • Vomiting (of blood), blood in urine
    • Watery and bloody diarrhoea
    • Nosebleeds
    • Sometimes circulatory collapse
  • Oedema (collection of fluid)
  • Cramps
  • Disorientation, possibly leading to coma
  • Can cause death (multiple organ failure/circulatory shock)

Causes and treatment

Causes

Transmission
  • From animals to humans
    • Eating of infected meat (“bushmeat”)
    • Contact with animal excretions
    • Carriers: monkeys and fruit bats
  • Human-to-human transmission
    • Contact with bodily fluids
    • Close contact is required
    • Smear infection (infected items)

Further treatment by your doctor / in hospital

Possible tests
  • Physical examination
  • Identification of pathogen
    • Blood test
    • Analysis of other bodily fluids, if necessary
    • Done in high-security laboratories
Possible therapies
  • Passive vaccine is in development
  • Isolation (risk of contagion)
  • Treatment of symptoms
    • Medication to reduce fever/pain
    • Coagulation control
    • Replacement of lost fluids
  • Intensive care treatment
    • Monitoring
    • Organ replacement therapy (artificial respiration, blood purification, etc.)

What can I do myself?

  • Medical advice for travellers (at least 3 months before travelling)
  • Avoid epidemic areas, if possible
  • Vaccine is being tested
    • First large campaigns carried out in Congo in 2018
  • Avoid contact with animals when travelling
    • Don't eat wild animals killed as food (“bushmeat”)
    • Don't travel into the wild in epidemic areas
  • General hygiene measures
    • Disinfect items of daily use
    • Hand hygiene
    • Food hygiene
    • Avoid contact with infected people

When to see a doctor?

If following symptoms occur during or up to three weeks after returning from a trip to the (sub)tropics (general suspicion of a tropical disease)

Further information

Federal Office of Public Health, FOPH (Bundesamt für Gesundheit, BAG)
www.bag.admin.ch/bag

Ostschweizer Infostelle für Reisemedizin (Eastern Switzerland Information Centre for Travel Medicine)
www.osir.ch

Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Schweizerisches Tropen- und Public Health-Institut)
www.swisstph.ch

FDFA (travel links)
www.eda.admin.ch/eda/en

Synonyms

Ebola, Ebola fever and Ebola haemorrhagic fever, Ebola haemorrhagic fever, Marburg fever, Ebolavirus disease, Ebola disease, EVD, Maridi fever, EHF, haemorrhagic Ebola fever

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Exclusion of liability

CSS offers no guarantee for the accuracy and completeness of the information. The information published is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.

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