EbolaWhat is Ebola?

Ebola is a virus in the family of viral hemorrhagic fevers. It was first discovered in 1976 in the central African country of Democratic Republic of Congo.  Since then it has appeared sporadically throughout the African continent.

Currently, Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) transmission is occurring in the West African countries of Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Nigeria. Approximately 60% of the people who become ill with EVD, die from the illness. Please check the CDC website for an up to date list of affected countries.

How is it spread?

The reservoir or natural site where the virus exists is unknown. It is thought to be fruit bats in certain African countries which in turn infect non-human primates such as monkeys. It is thought to be spread to people through butchering of infected animals for meat.

Once the virus is present in human populations, modes of transmission are well known and occur via:

  • Direct contact with the blood, excreta, or secretions of an infected person even after death.
  • Exposure to objects (such as needles) that have been contaminated with infected secretions.

Once exposed, it takes between 2-21 days before people display signs of illness. It is only during this symptomatic period that infected individuals can spread the disease to others. People who do not have a fever or other symptoms of EVD are not contagious.

Signs and symptoms:

  • Fever—greater than 101.5°F
  • Headache
  • Joint and muscle aches
  • Weakness
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Rash
  • Unexplained bleeding
  • Sore throat
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing

Do we need to worry about an EVD epidemic in the U.S.?

An EVD epidemic in the United States is extremely unlikely.


Because we still do not know exactly how people become ill with Ebola, few primary prevention measures have been established and no vaccine exists. For more information: CDC Website or Wisconsin Department of Health or call the toll free hotline 1-844-684-1064, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The calls are free, confidential, and multi-lingual.


Ebola Fact Sheet


Share this page