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In the United States, Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) is a very rare disease. In other parts of the world, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, Ebola virus is widespread (endemic).

When living in or traveling to a region where Ebola virus is widespread, there are a number of ways to protect yourself and prevent the spread of EVD. Practicing good hand hygiene is an effective method in preventing the spread of dangerous germs, like the Ebola virus. Proper hand hygiene means washing hands often with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

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).
  • 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 or blood, fluids and raw meat prepared from these animals (bushmeat) or meat from an unknown source.
  • Contact with semen from a man who had EVD until you know the virus is gone from the semen.

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.

Ebola Vaccine

There is currently no vaccine licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to protect people from Ebola virus.

An experimental vaccine called rVSV-ZEBOV was found to be highly protective against the virus in a trial conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) and other international partners in Guinea in 2015. FDA licensure for the vaccine is expected in 2018. In the meantime, 300,000 doses have been committed for an emergency use stockpile under the appropriate regulatory mechanism (Investigational New Drug application [IND] or Emergency Use Authorization [EUA]) in the event an outbreak occurs before FDA approval is received. Scientists continue to study the safety of this vaccine in populations such as children and people with HIV.[1]

Another Ebola vaccine candidate, the recombinant adenovirus type-5 Ebola vaccine, was evaluated in a phase 2 trial in Sierra Leone in 2015. An immune response was stimulated by this vaccine within 28 days of vaccination, the response decreased over six months after injection. Research on this vaccine is ongoing.[2]


[1] Henao-Restrepo AM, Camacho A, Longini I. et al.  Efficacy and effectiveness of an rVSV-vectored vaccine in preventing Ebola virus disease: final results from the Guinea ring vaccination, open label, cluster-randomised trial (Ebola Ca Suffit!).  The Lancet. (2017) 389: 505-518.

[2] Zhu F, Wurie AH, Liang Q. et al.  Safety and immunogenicity of a recombinant adenovirus type-5 vector-based Ebola vaccine in healthy adults in Sierra Leone:  a single-centre, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, phase 2 trial.  The Lancet (2017) 389: 621-28.