Ebola and Marburg

What are Ebola and Marburg?

Ebola virus disease and Marburg virus disease are viral hemorrhagic fevers. These diseases damage organs and blood vessels and may cause death. A person can get infected with Ebola or Marburg viruses if they touch or handle the following:

  • Body fluids from an infected person, such as blood, urine, saliva, sweat, feces, vomit, breast milk, semen, and others.
  • Objects contaminated with the body fluids of an infected person, such as clothes, bedding, needles, and medical equipment.
  • Infected wild animals, for example bats and primates, or their body fluids or meat (bushmeat).

Ebola and Marburg symptoms may start anywhere from 2 to 21 days after a person is infected (for Ebola, the average is 8-10 days). Symptoms may include sudden fever, chills, headache, body aches, and a rash on the chest, back, and stomach.

People with Ebola or Marburg are at risk for internal bleeding, critically low blood pressure (shock), damage to multiple organs and organ systems (liver, pancreas, kidneys, brain), and death.

Who is at risk?

Most travelers have low chances of getting infected with Ebola or Marburg viruses.

Ebola and Marburg viruses are found in sub-Saharan Africa.

Travelers to sub-Saharan Africa who work closely with or visit areas with bats or non-human primates, such as monkeys, chimpanzees, and gorillas, may be more likely to get infected. For example, two tourists visiting Uganda in 2008 who were infected with Marburg virus were likely exposed while visiting a cave known for its large bat population. People who care for patients with Ebola or Marburg disease may also be more likely to get infected due to exposure to their blood or body fluids.

What can travelers do to prevent Ebola and Marburg?

 

You can protect yourself from infection by taking the following steps.

  • Avoid close contact with sick people and blood or body fluids from all people
    • Do not kiss, hug, or share eating utensils or cups.
    • Don't touch items that may have blood or body fluids on them. 
  • Avoid animals when traveling
    • Don't touch live or dead animals.
    • Avoid markets or farms with animals.
    • Don't eat or handle meat from wild animals.
    • If you are traveling to work with animals, wear appropriate protective gear. 
  • Wash your hands
    • Wash hands often with soap and water. If soap and water aren’t available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
    • Keep your hands away from your eyes, nose, and mouth. If you need to touch your face, make sure your hands are clean.
  • Avoid touching dead bodies
    • Don’t participate in funeral activities that involve touching dead bodies, or touch items that have been in contact with dead bodies or have blood or body fluids on them. 

After Travel

If you traveled and feel sick, particularly if you have a fever, talk to a healthcare provider and tell them about your travel. Avoid contact with other people while you are sick.

If you need medical care abroad, see Getting Health Care During Travel.

If you have visited an area with an Ebola outbreak, follow additional recommendations after returning to the United States.

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