Risk of Exposure
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 of Ebola among humans have appeared sporadically in Africa.
Healthcare providers caring for Ebola patients and family and friends in close contact with Ebola patients are at the highest risk of getting sick because they may come in contact with infected blood or body fluids. Ebola also can be spread through direct contact with objects (like clothes, bedding, needles, syringes/sharps or medical equipment) that have been contaminated with infected body fluids. Additionally, people can become sick with Ebola after coming in contact with infected wildlife. For example, in Africa, Ebola may spread as a result of handling bushmeat (wild animals hunted for food) and contact with infected bats.
Ebola virus has been found in the semen of some men who have recovered from Ebola. It is possible that Ebola could be spread through sex. Until more information is known, people should avoid contact with semen from a male survivor. If male survivors have sex (oral, vaginal, or anal sex), a condom should be used correctly and consistently every time. The risk of getting Ebola from semen is considered to be very low and likely decreases over time. CDC and other public health partners are continuing to study Ebola transmission and will share what is known as it becomes available.
Past Ebola Outbreaks
Past Ebola outbreaks have occurred in the following countries:
- Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)
- South Sudan
- Ivory Coast
- Republic of the Congo (ROC)
- South Africa (imported)
Current Ebola Outbreak in West Africa
The 2014 Ebola epidemic is the largest in history and is affecting multiple countries in West Africa. Two imported cases, including one death, and two locally acquired cases in healthcare workers have been reported in the United States.
- Questions and Answers on the 2014 West Africa Ebola Outbreak
- Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations for Hospitalized Patients with Known or Suspected Ebola Virus Disease in U.S. Hospitals
- Interim U.S. Guidance for Monitoring and Movement of Persons with Potential Ebola Virus Exposure
- Think Ebola
- Tools for Protecting Healthcare Personnel
- Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations for Hospitalized Patients Under Investigation (PUIs) for Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in U.S. Hospitals
- Page last reviewed: April 25, 2015
- Page last updated: April 25, 2015
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