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Division of Disease Control

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What is Ebola?

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.

Symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure to the disease, but the average is 8 to 10 days. Symptoms of Ebola include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Joint and Muscle Aches
  • Weakness
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach Pain
  • Lack of Appetite
  • Abnormal Bleeding


The CDC has a regularly updated webpage of information about Ebola and the current outbreak in Africa and the U.S.

What is PDPH doing about Ebola?

The Health Department is actively working to get ready in case anyone with Ebola comes to Philadelphia. A variety of partner agencies are helping to coordinate our response, including healthcare providers, hospitals, the airport and U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, and the Fire Department.

We are making sure that doctors and nurses in Philadelphia have access to the latest guidance materials and tools through our , and we continue to monitor for new cases throughout the city.

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.

On October 17, we participated in a press conference about the City’s response. You can view it here.

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 can I keep from getting Ebola?

Ebola 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.

If you traveled to a country that has an active outbreak, you are at risk only if you had close contact with a person who was sick from Ebola. 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.

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 911.

People can protect themselves from Ebola by not going to Ebola-affected countries.

Where can I learn more?

The Health Department is using social media to give out the latest updates and information on Ebola. Follow us on Twitter  and on Facebook.

For more information, the CDC and Pennsylvania Department of Health have created websites about Ebola as well.