Prevention and Vaccine
In the areas where Ebola disease is most common, ebolaviruses are believed to spread at low rates among certain animal populations. Ebolaviruses can spread to a person when they come in contact with an infected animal. Once infected, a person can become sick with Ebola disease and spread the virus to other people who come in contact with them.
When living in or traveling to a region where ebolaviruses are potentially present, there are several ways to protect yourself and prevent the spread of Ebola disease.
- Avoid contact with blood and body fluids (such as urine, feces, saliva, sweat, vomit, breast milk, amniotic fluid, semen, and vaginal fluids) of people who are sick.
- Avoid contact with semen from a man who has recovered from Ebola disease, until testing shows that the virus is gone from his semen.
- Avoid contact with items that may have come in contact with an infected person’s blood or body fluids (such as clothes, bedding, needles, and medical equipment).
- Avoid funeral or burial practices that involve touching the body of someone who is suspected or confirmed to have had Ebola disease.
- Avoid contact with bats, forest antelopes, nonhuman primates (such as monkeys and chimpanzees), and the blood, fluids, or raw meat prepared from these or unknown animals.
These same prevention methods should be used when living in or traveling to an area affected by an Ebola outbreak. After returning from an Ebola-affected area, people should monitor their health for 21 days and seek medical care immediately if they develop symptoms of Ebola disease.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the Ebola vaccine rVSV-ZEBOV (called Ervebo®) on December 19, 2019. This vaccine is given as a single dose vaccine and has been found to be safe and protective against Ebola virus (species Zaire ebolavirus) only, which has caused the largest and most deadly Ebola outbreaks to date. This is the first FDA-approved vaccine for an ebolavirus.
On February 26, 2020, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommended pre-exposure prophylaxis vaccination with rVSV-ZEBOV for adults ≥ 18 years of age in the U.S. population who are at potential occupational risk of exposure to Zaire ebolavirus. This recommendation includes adults who are
- Responding or planning to respond to an outbreak caused by Ebola virus;
- Laboratorians or other staff working at biosafety-level 4 facilities that work with live Ebola virus in the United States; or
- Healthcare personnel working at federally designated Ebola Treatment Centers [PDF – 1 MB] in the United States.
For healthcare providers looking for information about the Ebola vaccine and vaccinating ACIP recommended groups, visit Ebola Vaccine: Information about Ervebo®.
A two-dose vaccine regimen of a different vaccine that was also designed to protect against the Zaire ebolavirus species of Ebola was used under a research protocol in 2019 during an Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The two doses of this vaccine use two different vaccine components (Ad26.ZEBOV and MVA-BN-Filo) and the regimen requires an initial dose and a “booster” dose 56 days later. This vaccine has not yet been approved by the FDA for routine use.