In the United States, Ebola virus disease (EVD) is a very rare disease that has only occurred because of cases that were acquired in other countries, eventually followed by person-to-person transmission. EVD is most common in parts of sub-Saharan Africa, with occasional outbreaks occurring in people. In these areas, Ebola virus is believed to circulate at low rates in certain animal populations (enzootic). Occasionally people become sick with Ebola after coming into contact with these infected animals, which can then lead to Ebola outbreaks where the virus spreads between people.
When living in or traveling to a region where Ebola virus is present, there are a number of ways to protect yourself and prevent the spread of EVD.
While in an area affected by Ebola, it is important to avoid the following:
- Contact with blood and body fluids (such as urine, feces, saliva, sweat, vomit, breast milk, semen, and vaginal fluids) of persons who are ill.
- Contact with semen from a man who has recovered from EVD, until testing verifies the virus is gone from the semen.
- Items that may have come in contact with an infected person’s blood or body fluids (such as clothes, bedding, needles, and medical equipment).
- Funeral or burial rituals that require handling the body of someone who died from EVD.
- Contact with bats and nonhuman primates’ blood, fluids, or raw meat prepared from these animals (bushmeat).
- Contact with the raw meat of an unknown source.
These same prevention methods apply when living in or traveling to an area affected by an Ebola outbreak. After returning from an area affected by Ebola, monitor your health for 21 days and seek medical care immediately if you develop symptoms of EVD.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the Ebola vaccine rVSV-ZEBOV (tradename “Ervebo”) on December 19, 2019. The rVSV-ZEBOV vaccine is a single dose vaccine regimen that has been found to be safe and protective against only the Zaire ebolavirus species of ebolavirus. This is the first FDA approval of a vaccine for Ebola.
Another investigational vaccine was developed and introduced under a research protocol in 2019 to combat an Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This vaccine leverages two different vaccine components (Ad26.ZEBOV and MVA-BN-Filo) and requires two doses with an initial dose followed by a second “booster” dose 56 days later. The second vaccine is also designed to protect against only the Zaire ebolavirus species of Ebola.