The CDC answers your questions about Ebola

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Friday, October 3, 2014
Ebola researcher
This undated handout photo provided by the journal Science shows Ebola researcher Augustine Goba, laboratory director at Kenema Government Hospital in Sierra Leone.

Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention hosted a Twitter chat to answer questions about Ebola. Highlights from the Twitter chat are below.

For questions specific about the Ebola case in Dallas, click/tap here.


Ebola spreads only by direct contact to bodily fluids. Does this include contact with sneezes, coughs, spit?
Ebola is spread through direct contact with body fluids (blood, urine, feces, saliva, sweat and other secretions) of an infected person.

If someone with Ebola coughs blood or vomits can those droplets infect those unprotected in a close range?
Yes. Droplet spread may be possible if a person is standing very close.

How soon after infection do symptoms show and how long is one contagious ?
Commonly 8-10 days, but rarely ranges 2-21 days. Contagious while showing symptoms of disease. Ebola patients are only contagious when symptomatic, so monitoring travelers is an important tool.

How do you know when a patient has been cured of Ebola?
After 21 days without symptoms

Is Ebola a virus like the flu which goes away, or pox which can reappear, or like HIV which is forever?
Once a patient has recovered, the Ebola virus is not retained in the body.

How long can the Ebola virus survive outside the body?
It varies a lot (temp, humidity, pH, etc), but Ebola can survive from 1-2 days outside the body.

Is this new virus more contagious than the previous?
Ebola doesn't spread from people who aren't sick. If someone has been exposed but isn't sick, they can't spread it to others.

Why have we not closed down the airports?
We need to keep routine activities going. Risk of spread is low. CDC works w/ partners to identify ill travelers.

Why aren't travelers from Ebola stricken countries being quarantined for 21 days?
Risk of a traveler spreading Ebola in U.S. is low. Travelers are encouraged to monitor health on return.

Any advice/precautionary measures on staying healthy for travelers/volunteers heading to Africa?
Avoid contact w/ body fluids, avoid handling body of someone who died from Ebola. Also avoid hospitals where Ebola patients are being treated & seek medical care if you get sick. CDC urges U.S. residents to avoid non-essential travel to Guinea, Liberia, & Sierra Leone.

How are US hospitals properly equipped to deal with Ebola threats?
Any US hospital following CDC's infection control recs & isolating patient in private room can safely manage

Does the CDC have plans if an outbreak occurs in America?
Absolutely. We're in contact w numerous federal, state & local health agencies and hospitals. Infection control guidelines can be found on the CDC's website.