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

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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