Ebola hemorrhagic fever (Ebola HF) is a Viral Haemorrhagic Fever. It is a severe,
often fatal disease in humans and nonhuman primates (such as monkeys, gorillas,
President Ernest Bai Koroma has declared a state of emergency in response to the
current outbreak of Ebola HF in West Africa. It is essential that all students and
staff adhere to official guidance issued by the Sierra Leonean Government that
is aimed at controlling the spread of Ebola HF during the state of emergency.
Volunteers must follow the advice issued by the UK government and the World
These sites are updated frequently and must be consulted prior to travel to Sierra
Staff and students in Sierra Leone
How are Ebola viruses spread between humans?
• direct contact with the blood or secretions (including saliva and sweat) of an
• exposure to objects (such as needles) that have been contaminated with infected
The viruses that cause Ebola HF are often spread through families and friends
because they come in close contact with infectious secretions when caring for ill
What’s the advice for members of the EducAid community?
Following these simple precautions will minimise your risk of catching Ebola virus disease:
• don’t handle dead animals or their raw meat
• don’t eat ‘bushmeat’
• avoid contact with patients who have symptoms
• avoid having sex with people in risk areas; use a condom if you do
• make sure fruit and veg is washed and peeled before you eat it
• wash hands frequently using soap and water (alcohol hand rubs when soap is not available), as this destroys the virus
How does it spread among people?
People can become infected with the Ebola virus if they come into contact with the blood, body fluids or organs of an infected person.
Most people are infected by giving care to other infected people, either by directly touching the victim’s body or by cleaning up body fluids (stools, urine or vomit) that carry infectious blood.
Traditional African burial rituals have also played a part in its spread. The Ebola virus can survive for several days outside the body, including on the skin of an infected person, and it’s common practice for mourners to touch the body of the deceased. They only then need to touch their mouth to become infected.
Other ways people can catch Ebola are:
• touching the soiled clothing of an infected person, then touching your mouth
• having sex with an infected person without using a condom (the virus is present in semen for up to seven weeks after the infected person has recovered)
• handling unsterilised needles or medical equipment that were used in the care of the infected person
A person is infectious as long as their blood, urine, stools or secretions contain the virus.
Ebola virus disease is generally not spread through routine social contact (such as shaking hands) with patients who do not have symptoms. The virus is not, for example, as infectious as diseases like the flu, as such airborne transmission is much less likely. You’d need to have close contact with the source of infection to be at risk.
What are the signs and symptoms of Ebola HF?
Typically: fever, headache, joint and muscle aches, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting,
stomach pain, lack of appetite.
Some patients experience: rash, red eyes, hiccups, cough, sore throat, chest pain,
difficulty breathing, difficulty swallowing, bleeding inside and outside of the body.
Symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure to ebolavirus
though 8-10 days is most common. Contact a senior member of staff if a case is
How can human to human transmission be prevented?
Travellers or residents in the affected areas of countries can minimize risk of getting
infected if they avoid:
• Contact with blood or bodily fluids of a person or corpse infected with the Ebola
• Contact with or handling of wild animals, alive or dead or their raw or undercooked
• Having sexual intercourse with a sick person or a person recovering from EVD for
at least 7 weeks
• Having contact with any object, such as needles, that has been contaminated with
blood or bodily fluids
When cases of Ebola HF are suspected or confirmed:
• Isolate Ebola HF patients from contact with unprotected persons
• Wear protective clothing (such as masks, gloves, gowns) if contact with the
affected person is essential
The aim of these techniques is to avoid contact with the blood or secretions of an
infected patient. If a patient with Ebola HF dies, it is equally important that direct
contact with the body of the deceased patient be prevented by prompt burial
of the deceased.
James Boardman | 30th May 2014 | updated: 31st July 2014
• Centers for Disease Prevention and Control
• UK Government
• World Health Organisation