Ebola Virus Disease

What is Ebola Virus Disease?

Ebola virus disease (EVD), previously referred to as Ebola hemorrhagic fever, is an often fatal, viral disease that has sporadically caused human outbreaks. Currently, there are five known species of Ebola virus. The species causing the current outbreak in West Africa is Ebolavirus Zaire.

How is Ebolavirus Zaire spread?

A person infected with Ebola is not contagious until symptoms begin to appear.

It is spread through:

  • Contact with bodily fluids (blood, feces, saliva, sweat, urine, vomit, semen etc.) of an infected person or animal with symptoms of EVD
  • Contact with contaminated objects (needles, syringes) of infected individuals or animals
  • Contact with the skin or pelt of an infected animal or human, alive or dead
  • Contact with uncleansed surfaces contaminated with bodily fluids from infected animals or humans

Ebola viruses enter the human body through broken or irritated skin or unprotected mucous membranes (eyes, nose, mouth, genitals, and GI tract) or by direct injection (e.g. needle stick).  Ebola can spread between families, friends, and other close contacts.  It can also spread quickly within healthcare settings (clinics and hospitals).  Touching or laying the hands on a dead body during funerals of persons who died of EVD is a frequent cause of contamination.

What are the symptoms of EVD?

Symptoms can appear 2 to 21 days after infection and in rare instances more than 21 days  after infection , but more typically between 8 to 11 days.

Symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Severe headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach pain
  • Unexplained bleeding or bruising

How is EVD treated?

Currently, there are no specific treatments that have been proven to be effective against EVD. Instead, symptoms are treated as they appear. When basic interventions are used early, the chances of survival increase significantly.

These interventions include:

  • Fluids and balancing electrolytes
  • Drugs to address vomiting, diarrhea and pain
  • Maintaining oxygen status and blood pressure
  • Treatment of other infections as they occur

Am I at risk?

Currently, the risk to the United States population is low. However, people are encouraged to engage in good hygienic practices and remain aware of EVD’s evolving situation.

What if I traveled to a country where EVD outbreaks have occurred?

The State of Florida by Executive Order (14-280) states that the Florida Department of Health must actively monitor all asymptomatic travelers returning from CDC designated Ebola-affected areas as follows:

  • Those with no known exposure to EVD the monitoring will include at least:
    •  In-person risk assessment ≤ 12 hours of traveler's arrival in FL
    • Twice-daily 21-day health monitoring
    • Persons with Known Exposure to EVD, Under FL DOH: 3 81. 00315(4 ), FL will:
      •  “Quarantine all high-risk travelers from EVD-affected countries in West Africa identified by CDC as being located in Florida for a period of 21 days following last known EVD exposure.”

How is FIU responding to this situation?

The University is actively monitoring the situation and taking the necessary precautions.

With flu season already here, how can I tell if my fever is caused by the flu or by EVD?

If you have not been to an area with high Ebola virus transmission, nor been in contact with animals or people who have recently returned from an area with high transmission of Ebola you should not worry.  In addition, the symptoms of Ebola are distinct from those of flu, please refer to this infographic. Taking the flu vaccine is actively encouraged.

What if I’ve been exposed to EVD?

Call the FIU Student Health Services if you are a student or FIU Health if you are an employee, even if you have no symptoms. They will tell you what university-specific instructions you should follow.

It is always a good idea to avoid contact with anyone who has been sick and to wash your hands regularly. Use soap and water or hand sanitizer.


FIU is currently following CDC guidelines regarding travel. The recommendations against non-essential travel, including education-related travel, are in place to help control the Ebola virus outbreak and prevent continued spread of the virus. It is impossible to predict exactly how long the outbreak will take to control. Travelers are strongly encouraged to stay up to date with travel recommendations.

For more information regarding travel recommendations, visit cdc.gov/travel/.

Additional Resources:

Florida Health

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Health Care Professionals

Health care professional specific information such as triage recommendations and PPE information can found here.