Ebola virus disease, or EVD, is a rare but deadly disease. It spreads from person to person through infected body fluids. Ebola symptoms include fever, pain and bleeding. Treatment improves the chance of survival.
Ebola is caused by a virus.
It is rare, very contagious (easily spread to others) and often deadly illness which spreads through contact of infected body fluids (from a sick person or from objects contaminated with body fluids, even door knobs).
Ebola causes fever, pain, diarrhea and bleeding.
It has occurred in Central and West Africa but can be carried and spread by travelers from this region. The largest outbreaks occurred in 2014-2016 mostly in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.
On average, 50% of people who get Ebola virus disease die.
Medication and the treatment of symptoms improve the chance of survival. Controlling outbreaks helps keep the Ebola virus from spreading.
Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy
Ebola is caused by a virus from the group of viral hemorrhagic fever (VHF) viruses.
Infection occurs by direct contact with infected body fluids - blood, diarrhea, saliva (“spit”), mucus (“snot”), urine (“pee”), vomit (“puke”), breast milk or semen from an infected person or animal (bat, monkey or ape).
After direct contact you then touch your eyes, nose, mouth or an area of broken skin.
The infected body fluids can be on a person or object. You can also get Ebola virus disease from an infected bat, monkey or ape. It is not spread through the air.
Symptoms occur on average of two to six days after exposure but occasionally not until 21 days later.
Symptoms have an abrupt (quick) onset. They include:
Healthcare providers use lab tests to help diagnose Ebola. It may take up to three days for the Ebola virus to reach levels that lab tests can detect. Therefore the diagnosis is often made first by the symptoms and findings for the patient.
In October 2020, the FDA approved the first treatment for Ebola. The new medication, Inmazeb™, combines three antibodies (atoltivimab, maftivimab and odesivimab-ebgn). Patients who take Inmazeb have a higher chance of survival.
Healthcare providers treat Ebola virus symptoms to improve the chance of survival.
Treatments include giving:
Your risk for getting Ebola is higher if you’re in an area with an active outbreak. Nearly all Ebola outbreaks occur in African countries.
A vaccine has also been developed for those at high risk of becoming infected.
To help prevent becoming sick with Ebola avoid:
Care providers need to take extra care to avoid getting or spreading Ebola. Steps care providers can take to avoid getting Ebola include:
Care providers can help reduce the spread of the Ebola virus by:
About half of the people who get Ebola die. The survival rate has improved greatly since scientists discovered Ebola in the 1970s. Previously, as many as 90% of sick people died. New antibody treatments offer hope for survival rates to continue to improve.
Ebola survivors may have ongoing mental and physical problems.
Physical problems include:
Mental effects include:
If you’re in an area with an active Ebola outbreak and have Ebola symptoms, get care right away. Care can help improve symptoms and raise your chance of survival. It can also stop Ebola from spreading.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Ebola is a rare but serious illness caused by a virus. You can prevent Ebola by staying away from areas where there are active outbreaks and by avoiding contact with people who have it. If you suspect exposure to Ebola or have symptoms, seek care immediately.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 01/22/2021.
Learn more about our editorial process.