• Question: how do you get ebola

    Asked by legoman69 to David, Thiloka, Shonna, Shobhana, Ryan, Ross, Rebecca, Rachel, Patrick, Nina, MattyB, Matthew, Marianne, Lorena, Kate, Kaitlin, James, Ettie, Emmanuelle, Deepak, Anabel, Ambre, Alex, AlexAgrotis, Aina on 24 Jun 2019. This question was also asked by beano.
    • Photo: Matthew Bareford

      Matthew Bareford answered on 24 Jun 2019:


      Ebola is passed on from an infected animal/individual to another via direct contact with their bodily fluids, such as blood/saliva etc.

      The virus itself originates from Africa, thus you’d also have to be in an affected area or very close contact with someone who had been to that particular area.

      We do not know the exact ‘reservoir species’ (the animals that carry the virus with no effect to them) for certain, but a lot of people believe it could be bats.

    • Photo: David Wilson

      David Wilson answered on 24 Jun 2019: last edited 24 Jun 2019 12:18 pm


      Ebola and to an extent the other hemorrhagic fevers like Marburg are deadly if you do catch it but are not that easy to catch. In fact simply avoiding direct contact with patients and regular hand washing with soap is usually sufficient to prevent it’s spread.
      .
      The two things that make it hard to stop spreading is that in Africa where outbreaks occur the medical facilities are often quite far away from villages so people that fall ill are cared for by relatives who might not know what the symptoms are. Also it has a relatively long incubation period of up to 21 days during which an infected person might travel and come into contact with hundreds of other uninfected people.
      .
      I read this book https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hot_Zone while i was at secondary school. It got me totally hooked on viruses. I actually went to university to study virology but 4 years is a long time and i got interested in other areas of biology. I still think viruses are amazing though, particularly Ebola, how despite all our amazing scientific achievements this tiny wee virus can still wreck us.

    • Photo: James Streetley

      James Streetley answered on 24 Jun 2019:


      Ebola is transmitted via direct contact between a person and an infected person’s bodily fluid – commonly blood as the disease makes people more susceptible to bleeding. Because it needs to be direct contact, the best prevention is to avoid infected people, but obviously for nurses and healthworkers that ins’t possible. Instead they wear a lot of protective clothing; visors, heavy gloves, gowns and have a strict method of putting them on and taking them off so that they don’t accidentally contact the outside of the gown while taking it off.

    • Photo: Shobhana Nagraj

      Shobhana Nagraj answered on 24 Jun 2019:


      I think the others have answered this already! It is transmitted via bodily fluids – like vomit/saliva/blood.

    • Photo: Kaitlin Wade

      Kaitlin Wade answered on 24 Jun 2019:


      Through bodily fluids like blood, vomit, saliva, etc.

    • Photo: Nina Rzechorzek

      Nina Rzechorzek answered on 24 Jun 2019: last edited 24 Jun 2019 6:53 pm


      Very timely question. It is thought that fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family are natural Ebola virus hosts. Ebola is introduced into the human population through close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals such as fruit bats, chimpanzees, gorillas, monkeys, forest antelope or porcupines found ill or dead or in the rainforest.

      Ebola then spreads through human-to-human transmission via direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with:

      Blood or body fluids of a person who is sick with or has died from Ebola
      Objects that have been contaminated with body fluids (like blood, faeces, vomit) from a person sick with Ebola or the body of a person who died from Ebola
      Health-care workers have frequently been infected while treating patients with suspected or confirmed Ebola Virus Disease. This occurs through close contact with patients when infection control precautions are not strictly practiced.

      Burial ceremonies that involve direct contact with the body of the deceased can also contribute in the transmission of Ebola.

      People remain infectious as long as their blood contains the virus.

      Here’s are some excellent resources from the World Health Organisation to learn more about Ebola virus and the disease it causes:
      https://www.who.int/csr/disease/ebola/faq-ebola/en/
      https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/ebola-virus-disease

    • Photo: Ettie Unwin

      Ettie Unwin answered on 25 Jun 2019:


      I’m currently analysing data from the current ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo to work out who is at most risk of getting the disease next. What everyone else has answered is correct and builds up a good picture of the disease.

      To help stop the spread, health care professionals try and monitor people who have been in contact with those with the disease. This means that if they show any signs of symptoms they are kept apart from everyone else and treated.

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