About Ebola Virus Disease

ebola virus

Ebola, previously known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever, is a rare and deadly disease caused by infection with one of the Ebola virus strains. Ebola can cause disease in humans and nonhuman primates (monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees).

Ebola is caused by infection with a virus of the family Filoviridae, genus Ebolavirus. There are five identified Ebola virus species, four of which are known to cause disease in humans: Ebola virus (Zaire ebolavirus); Sudan virus (Sudan ebolavirus); Taï Forest virus (Taï Forest ebolavirus, formerly Côte d’Ivoire ebolavirus); and Bundibugyo virus (Bundibugyo ebolavirus). The fifth, Reston virus (Reston ebolavirus), has caused disease in nonhuman primates, but not in humans.

Ebola viruses are found in several African countries. Ebola was first discovered in 1976 near the Ebola River in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Since then, outbreaks have appeared sporadically in Africa.

The natural reservoir host of Ebola virus remains unknown. However, on the basis of evidence and the nature of similar viruses, researchers believe that the virus is animal-borne and that bats are the most likely reservoir. Four of the five virus strains occur in an animal host native to Africa.

Source: CDC.gov

Information for the Public

ebola public information line 1-844-836-8714

Ebola is only contagious after the onset of symptoms. The incubation period before symptoms may appear is 2-21 days, with 8-10 days being the most common. Ebola is spread through unprotected contact with blood or body fluids from someone who is infected. Anyone who becomes ill within 21 days after traveling to an affected area in West Africa should contact a healthcare provider right away and limit their contact with others until they have been evaluated.

Ebola is spread through direct contact (through broken skin or through your eyes, nose, or mouth) with

  • Blood and body fluids (like urine, feces, saliva, vomit, sweat, and semen) of a person who is sick with Ebola.
  • Objects (like needles) that have been contaminated with the blood or body fluids of a person sick with Ebola.
Ebola is not spread through the air, water, or food.

There is no FDA-approved vaccine available for Ebola. Experimental vaccines and treatments for Ebola are under development, but they have not yet been fully tested for safety or effectiveness.

Symptoms of Ebola

  • Fever
  • Severe headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Weakness
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Unexplained bleeding or bruising

CDC: Facts about Ebola (PDF, 217KB)

CDC: Is it Flu or Ebola? (PDF, 731KB)

CDC: What You Need to Know about Ebola (PDF, 2.3MB)

CDC: Facts about Ebola in the US (PDF, 250KB)

CDC: Stopping the Ebola Outbreak (PDF, 140KB)

CDC: What is contact tracing? (PDF, 247KB)

CDC: What’s the difference between infections spread through the air or by droplets? (PDF, 542KB)

CDC: Resources for Parents, Schools, and Pediatric Healthcare Professionals

CDC: Questions and Answers about Ebola and Pets

NCDHHS: Ebola FAQs for West African Communities (PDF, 343KB) - UPDATED 01/14/15

Information for Providers

This section is intended to provide updated information to all North Carolina health care providers and laboratories regarding Ebola virus disease (EVD) and management of suspected cases.

Ebola Traveler Monitoring and Screening for International Travel (PDF, 185KB)

Ebola guidance for North Carolina providers and laboratories (PDF, 257KB) - UPDATED 11/21/14

Interim Guidance on Cleanup and Decontamination in the Non-medical Setting - UPDATED 11/25/14

CDC: Guidance for Safe Handling of Human Remains of Ebola Patients in U. S. Hospitals and Mortuaries

Local Health Department Guidance for Evaluation and Management of Persons with Potential Ebola Virus Exposure (PDF, 130KB) - UPDATED 06/15/15

Donning and Doffing of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for Ebola Isolation Units (YouTube Video)

Ebola Personal Protective Equipment Guidance: Healthcare Personnel Monitor Log for Use in Hospital Ebola Isolation Units (PDF, 134KB) (Word, 29KB) - UPDATED 11/07/14

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in Hospital Ebola Isolation Units: Donning Checklist (PDF, 370KB) (Word, 26KB) - UPDATED 11/07/14

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in Hospital Ebola Isolation Units: Doffing Checklist (PDF, 408KB) (Word, 34KB) - UPDATED 11/07/14

Donning of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Poster, for Use in Hospital Ebola Isolation Units (PDF, 50KB)

Doffing of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Poster, for Use in Hospital Ebola Isolation Units (PDF, 55KB)

Ebola Guidance for Non-Hospital Healthcare Facilities (PDF, 234KB) - 11/21/14

Protocols on Suspected Ebola Cases to EMS Agencies and First Responders (PDF, 964KB)

Recommendations for Firefighters and Law Enforcement Personnel (PDF, 137KB) - UPDATED 11/12/14

Disposal of blood and body fluids as regulated medical waste by sanitary sewer systems (PDF, 843KB)

Screen, Isolate, Call: Ambulatory Care Evaluation of Patients with Possible Ebola (PDF, 329KB) - 11/20/14

Risk Classification and Public Health Management of Persons with Possible Exposure to Ebola and No Symptoms (PDF, 2.2MB)

Ebola Contact Tracing Documents

Provider Algorithm for Ebola Risk Assessment (PDF, 1.4MB) - UPDATED 11/20/14

Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) Screening for EMS (PDF, 140KB)

Travel advisory for patient waiting rooms and triage areas - English (PDF, 265KB), French (PDF, 97KB), Spanish (PDF, 131KB)

CDC: Stopping the Ebola Outbreak (PDF, 140KB)

CDC: Factsheet: Healthcare Workers - Could it be Ebola? (PDF, 2.3MB)

CDC: CDC Guidance on Personal Protective Equipment To Be Used by Healthcare Workers

CDC: CDC Factsheet: Tightened Guidance for U.S. Healthcare Workers on Personal Protective Equipment for Ebola

CDC: Resources for Parents, Schools, and Pediatric Healthcare Professionals

CDC: Ambulatory Care Evaluation of Patients with Possible Ebola Virus Disease (PDF, 382KB)

CDC: Emergency Department Evaluation and Management of Patients with Possible Ebola Virus Disease (PDF, 411KB)

Ebola Inforgraphics for Colleges and Universities and Other Institutions: English (Word, 229KB), French (Word, 3MB), Spanish (Word, 3MB) - Updated 01/08/2015

Infographics for Local Health Departments: English (PDF, 519KB), French (PDF, 193KB), Spanish (PDF, 160KB) - Updated 01/08/2015


  1. Has the North Carolina Division of Public Health (NC DPH) been preparing for a patient with Ebola to arrive in our state?
    Yes, the NC DPH has been working closely with public health partners and healthcare providers statewide since July to prepare for the possibility of Ebola virus infections in North Carolina.
  2. How are public health departments, healthcare providers and other partners preparing?
    Extensive guidance has been provided by the CDC and the NC DPH to health departments, healthcare providers, hospitals and laboratories on evaluation of patients with recent international travel and on management of suspected cases. These partners are continuing to work together to develop plans to ensure that an Ebola patient can be safely managed in their communities. The most current guidance can be found here http://epi.publichealth.nc.gov/cd/diseases/hemorrhagic.html.
  3. What else is the NC DPH doing?
    We are actively monitoring for cases using a variety of methods, including real time surveillance of hospital emergency department visits and a network of hospital-based Public Health Epidemiologists in the state's largest hospital systems.
  4. Are first responders prepared to assist an Ebola patient?
    Yes, the NC DPH is working with the Office of Emergency Medical Services to assist local EMS agencies with triage and treatment protocols for potential Ebola patients.
  5. What will happen if a hospital or healthcare provider thinks someone has Ebola?
    Local health departments and the NC DPH are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for consultation for healthcare providers with concerns about Ebola or other communicable diseases. If Ebola is suspected by a healthcare provider, the NC DPH will work with the healthcare facility and the local health department to evaluate and safely manage the patient.
  6. Where will testing for Ebola be done?
    The State Laboratory of Public Health (SLPH) has successfully established the capability to rapidly detect Ebola infection. The SLPH can provide technical consultation to clinical laboratories on specimen collection, transport, and safety procedures while evaluating patients with recent international travel.
  7. What will the NC DPH do if we do have a case of Ebola in North Carolina?
    If a case occurred in North Carolina, state and local public health professionals would rapidly identify everyone who was potentially exposed and take immediate measures to prevent further spread. Our public health professionals have extensive training and experience with this type of investigation and response.

Press Releases

Additional Testing Confirms a Negative Result for Ebola for Patient at Duke University Hospital - November 5, 2014
A subsequent test of a new specimen provided by the patient at Duke University Hospital in Durham has resulted in a confirmed negative laboratory diagnosis for Ebola. This test, conducted 72 hours after an initial test was negative for the virus, confirms the patient is currently Ebola free.

N.C. Department of Health and Human Services' Testing Returned a Preliminary Negative Result for Ebola in Patient at Duke University Hospital - November 3, 2014
Testing conducted at the State Laboratory of Public Health, located in the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS), returned a preliminary negative result for Ebola in a patient at Duke University Hospital in Durham. Additional testing will occur 72 hours after his fever first developed to confirm this result.

N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Closely Monitoring a Traveler from Liberia - November 2, 2014
The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS) and Durham and Person County Health Departments are working closely with Duke University Hospital to monitor a patient who departed from Liberia and arrived in the United States via Newark Liberty International Airport on October 31. The individual arrived in Person County, N.C. on November 1 and developed a fever this morning (November 2).

Governor McCrory Gives Update on State’s Ebola Readiness - October 13, 2014
Governor Pat McCrory, along with Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Secretary Aldona Wos and State Epidemiologist Dr. Megan Davies, detailed today the state’s preparation should an Ebola case be diagnosed in North Carolina.
Video of press conference

DHHS Secretary Aldona Wos Says N.C. Has Been Preparing For Ebola - October 8, 2014
Secretary Aldona Wos said that the Department of Health and Human Services' (DHHS) Division of Public Health has been working closely with its public health partners and health care providers since July to prepare for the possibility that a patient in North Carolina might be diagnosed with Ebola. Over the past few months, extensive guidance has been sent to health care providers and procedures have been put in place to routinely screen and evaluate patients.

Agencies Coordinate Return of Missionaries from West Africa - August 11, 2014
The N.C. DHHS’ Division of Public Health, the Mecklenburg County Health Department and SIM USA are working in collaboration upon the return of missionaries, staff and their families from West African countries currently affected by an Ebola outbreak.


Communicable Disease Branch

 Telephone: (919) 733-3419 (main number; 24 hours)

 Website: North Carolina Communicable Disease Branch

Media Inquiries

 Telephone: (919) 855-4840

 Email: news@dhhs.nc.gov