Ebola Virus Disease is a serious infectious disease that is often fatal in humans. The first symptoms include fever, fatigue, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. Then, the symptoms become severe: vomiting, diarrhoea, rash and internal and external bleeding.

The time from when you get infected to having symptoms can vary from two days up to three weeks. The chance of survival is about 50 per cent but in past outbreaks, 25 to 90 per cent of infected people died. 

If you recover from Ebola, you may still experience some symptoms, such as feeling tired, headaches, various aches and pains in all parts of the body, vision problems, weight gain, loss of appetite, hair loss and skin problems, insomnia, memory problems, hearing loss and even depression and anxiety.

For people who get infected with Ebola, early supportive care is vital and includes rehydration to make up water losses (if the person cannot drink, they receive an intravenous drip), medicines for pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea, and also blood transfusions.

Monoclonal antibodies can be used in adults and children against some types of Ebola but they are not widely available. 

Scientists discovered that fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family are natural Ebola virus hosts but it can infect other animals too. It is thought that Ebola started infecting people because of bush meat – when people killed wild animals that carried the virus and came into close contact with their blood and other tissues and/or ate them. There have been cases of people getting Ebola from fruit bats, monkeys, forest antelope, porcupines and also chimpanzees and gorillas.

Ebola virus gets into your body through cuts in the skin or when you touch your eyes, nose or mouth with a contaminated hand. Of course, another route of infection is if you eat the infected animal.

Once a person has Ebola, they can infect another person through their body fluids, such as saliva, urine, stools or semen. You can only spread the disease once you have symptoms – not before. It’s also possible to catch the virus if you come into contact with items contaminated with the body fluids of an Ebola patient – eg clothing, bedsheets, cups, plates or cutlery.

If someone dies of Ebola, they may still pose a risk of infection and in the past, people got infected at burial ceremonies that involved direct contact with the body of the deceased. It’s worth noting that Ebola cannot be transmitted by air.Some types of Ebola can be prevented with vaccines and treated with medicines. Other vaccines are currently in development. However, it’s crystal clear that the best way to prevent Ebola is to not kill and eat wild animals.