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Division of Disease Control

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Ebola is a severe, often fatal, viral hemorrhagic fever disease.  Even though a few cases of Ebola have recently been diagnosed in the US, Ebola poses very low risk to the U.S. population. 

Currently, there is an outbreak of Ebola in several countries in West Africa, including Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.  On July 31, 2014, CDC recommended that people avoid nonessential travel to these countries (  Please see the CDC Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever page for an updated list of all affected countries and case counts .

Frequently Asked Questions
What are the symptoms of Ebola?
Symptoms can include:
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Joint and Muscle Aches
  • Weakness
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach Pain
  • Lack of Appetite
  • Abnormal Bleeding

How does Ebola spread?

It is spread through direct contact with the blood or other bodily fluids of a sick person. Ebola can also be spread through funeral rites that involve touching the body of a person who died of Ebola. It is not spread through food, water, or the air.

Am I at risk of getting Ebola?

You cannot get Ebola from a person who is not sick or showing symptoms. If you traveled to one of the affected countries, you are at risk only if you had close contact with a person who was sick from Ebola (through medical care or funeral rites), without taking special precautions. You are only at risk of getting sick with Ebola for 21 days after you were exposed to an ill person. If you returned over 21 days ago, you are not at risk of getting sick from Ebola.

What should I do to make sure I don’t have Ebola?

If you returned from your travel less than 21 days ago and are not sick, you should take your temperature two times a day to check for signs of a fever (temperature greater than 101.5°F or 38.6°C). If you get a fever within 21 days of travel in countries affected by Ebola, you should call your healthcare provider for advice.

How is Ebola prevented?

People can protect themselves from Ebola through avoiding travel to Ebola-affected countries.  CDC recommends that only essential personnel (health care workers and humanitarian aid workers) travel to affected countries.  If you must travel to an Ebola-affected country:

  • Practice good hygiene, including frequent hand washing.
  • Avoid contact with blood and body fluids.
  • Do not touch items that may have contacted blood or body fluids from a sick person.
  • Avoid funeral or burial rituals that involve touching the body of someone who has died from Ebola.
  • Avoid contact with animals and raw meat (including bushmeat).
  • Avoid hospitals that are treating patients with Ebola.     
Is Ebola in the United States?

In the U.S., Ebola represents very low risk to the general public. However, on 9/30/2014, the CDC confirmed the first travel-associated case of Ebola to be diagnosed in the United States. CDC and partners are taking precautions to prevent the spread of Ebola within the U.S. Additionally, several healthcare workers who became sick with Ebola in Africa have returned to the U.S. for treatment. Proper precautions have been taken and these cases pose no risk to the public.

What is the Philadelphia Department of Public Health (PDPH) doing to prepare?

The PDPH has taken several steps to prepare:

  • Enhanced surveillance to more effectively identify potential cases.
  • Created guidance materials and tools for healthcare providers and facilities.
  • Collaborated with airport officials, CDC quarantine staff, and US Customs and Border Protection officers to ensure reporting of ill travelers.
  • Provided up-to-date information regarding Ebola to the general public and healthcare providers.