Ebola virus can cause Ebola virus disease (EVD) which is a severe disease. Ebola virus can be transmitted from person to person through direct contact with bodily fluids of an infected person. People can also become infected with Ebola virus through contact with objects, such as needles or soiled clothing, that have been contaminated with infectious secretions.
Please see below the most frequently asked questions regarding the Ebola virus:
Can you catch Ebola from breathing near an infected person?
No. Ebola cannot be transmitted in the air. It has to come from direct contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person (eg. saliva, mucus, vomit, faeces, sweat, tears).
Is washing my hands really going to stop the spread of Ebola?
Yes. Maintaining high standards of personal hygiene means that you kill any germs you might contract from an infected person before you can ingest them.
Should I use alcohol hand gel?
Using alcohol hand gel is generally considered to be good practice to avoid communicable diseases. It will prove effective against virus transmission, including the Ebola virus.
I am worried that I could catch Ebola from someone who is not showing symptoms?
A person does not become infectious until they are showing symptoms.
What should I do if someone sneezes/coughs in my face?
You should follow general hygiene protocols. Make sure you wash hands and face, as this will help to stop transmission. Also remember that being sneezed or coughed on is not enough to catch Ebola, bodily fluids need to be ingested.
What are the signs of Ebola?
Ebola symptoms are non specific in the early stages, for example fever, and can be like other infections such as malaria which may also be common in the same parts of the world. Symptoms may last from a few days to a week or more. In the later stages there may be vomiting, diarrhoea, skin lesions and bleeding.
How can you contract the virus and how is it spread?
Ebola is transmitted by direct contact with the blood or bodily fluids of an infected person. Avoiding contact with those infected mitigates the risk of infection. The incubation period of Ebola ranges from 2 to 21 days.
Is the UK prepared for a potential outbreak of this highly infectious and deadly virus?
Yes. We have well-tested systems for dealing with any imported case of this type of disease. PHE and NHS England have plans in place to identify and promptly treat patients. We have robust prevention measures to contain infection, including specialist units if needed.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has stated that the Ebola Virus is no longer a public health emergency of international concern. This means that the risk to the UK public is now very low. For more information see the links in Related Information.