Ebola - What You Need to Know

Ebola infographic from CDCEbola is in the news and on the minds of many residents. Below is basic information you need to know about the virus.

About the Outbreak


There is a severe outbreak of Ebola in the West African countries of Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea. There have been only a few confirmed cases in the United States, all related to the outbreak in West Africa.
The 2014 outbreak of Ebola in the United States is extremely low and expected to remain so, but it is prudent for residents to educate themselves about the disease.

How the Virus is Transmitted


Ebola is an uncommon and fatal disease caused by infection with one of the five Ebola virus strains.

Ebola can be transmitted through blood and body fluids, contaminated needles and syringes, and infected animals (bats and nonhuman primates). However, Ebola is not an airborne disease, nor spread through water or food.

Healthcare workers and others caring for those with the disease are most at risk.

Symptoms


Signs and symptoms of Ebola range from fever over 101.5F, severe headache, muscle pain, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and unexplained bleeding or bruising.

Symptoms may appear from 2 to 21 days after exposure. If infected, treatment and recovery depend on effective clinical support and the patient's immune system responses.

If one must travel to one of the countries affected by the outbreak, the CDC recommends that individuals practice careful hygiene; avoid hospitals where Ebola patients are being treated, and avoid contact with objects, animals, and people that have come in contact with the disease.

What's Happening


Enhanced Airport Screening


Effective October 22, 2014, the Department of Homeland Security is requiring all passengers whose flights originate from any of the three countries affected by the Ebola outbreak to enter the US through one of five US airports. These five airports, which include Washington Dulles, Chicago O'Hare, Atlanta Hartsfield, JFK in New York and Newark Airport, have secondary screening and other added protocols in place to identify potential Ebola cases.
These five airports currently account for about 94 percent of travelers flying to the United States from these countries. At present there are no direct, non-stop commercial flights from Liberia, Sierra Leone, or Guinea to any airport in the United States.

This screening means that travelers from Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone will:
  • Be asked to answer questions to determine their risk of infection, have their temperatures taken and be observed for other symptoms of Ebola.
  • If symptoms exist, be referred to CDC officials on site for further evaluation.
  • Beginning October 22, 2014, all travelers from these 3 countries will be actively monitored by the CDC for 21 days following their arrival in the US.

View October 21, 2014 statement by DHS Secretary Johnson on the latest travel restrictions.


Other Screenings and Preparations


Although the likelihood of an outbreak in the US remains low, the Centers for Disease Control, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, local health departments, and hospitals are taking steps to be prepared.

  • Hospitals, other medical facilities, and emergency services personnel are reviewing and refining their screening processes for identifying potentially infected patients
  • Medical facilities are also training staff on how to isolate and deal with potential Ebola patients and protect themselves.
  • The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is monitoring emergency departments and working closely with hospitals and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

More Information