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Division of Disease Control

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Keeping Yourself and Your Family Safe from 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


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.

For more information, see the following fact sheets:

Frequently Asked Questions:


Facts about How You Can and Cannot get Ebola

Who is at Risk of Having Ebola?

The only people who are at risk of having Ebola are people who have had close contact with someone who was sick with Ebola. Not everyone from Africa, or West Africa, or one of the affected countries has Ebola. Only people who have touched the blood or bodily fluids of someone who already has Ebola can catch it.

People who have Ebola cannot spread it through casual contact, either. Unless you come into contact with their blood or bodily fluids while they have symptoms of Ebola (symptoms like a fever, or vomiting or body aches or diarrhea), you cannot catch Ebola from them. If someone does not have any symptoms of Ebola, they cannot spread Ebola.

If someone you know was in an Ebola-affected country and is complaining of Ebola-like symptoms, have them call 911.

PDPH is Getting Ready in Case Anyone with Ebola Comes to Philadelphia

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 Health Information Portal, and we continue to monitor for new cases throughout the city.

For More Information

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.