Get the Facts About Ebola

The New York State Department of Health (DOH) is in continuous contact with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), NYC Health Department, local health departments across the state, hospital associations, individual health care facilities, EMS providers, and other appropriate entities to monitor the situation, support investigation of any suspect cases, and provide guidance and information on infection control protocols and procedures to ensure the health and safety of all health care workers, patients, visitors and the general public.

Additionally, DOH continues to provide CDC Advisories and Alerts to county health departments and health care providers to heighten awareness of possible cases, request reporting of any suspect cases, and to reiterate infection control procedures.

On the remote possibility that an ill passenger enters the United States, CDC has protocols in place to protect against further spread of disease. These include notification to CDC of ill passengers on a plane before arrival, investigation of ill travelers, and, if necessary, isolation. CDC has also provided guidance to airlines for managing ill passengers and crew and for disinfecting aircraft.

CDC has issued a Health Alert Notice reminding U.S. health care workers of the importance of taking steps to prevent the spread of this virus, how to test and isolate suspected patients and how they can protect themselves from infection.

Frequently Asked Questions about Ebola

What is Ebola?

Ebola virus is the cause of a viral hemorrhagic fever disease. Symptoms include: fever, headache, joint and muscle aches, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, lack of appetite, and abnormal bleeding. Symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure to Ebola virus, though 8-10 days is most common.

Where is the current outbreak occurring?

The current Ebola outbreak is centered on three countries in West Africa: Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone; although there is the potential for further spread to neighboring African countries. Ebola does not pose a significant risk to the U.S. public. The standard and rigorous infection control procedures used in major hospitals in the U.S. will prevent the spread of Ebola here.

How is Ebola transmitted?

Ebola is transmitted through direct contact with the blood or bodily fluids of an infected symptomatic person or though exposure to objects (such as needles) that have been contaminated with infected secretions.

Can Ebola be transmitted through the air?

No. Ebola is not a respiratory disease like the flu, so it is not transmitted through the air.

Can I get Ebola from contaminated food or water?

No. Ebola is not a food-borne illness. It is not a water-borne illness.

Can I get Ebola from a person who is infected but doesn't have any symptoms?

No. Individuals who are not symptomatic are not contagious. In order for the virus to be transmitted, an individual would have to have direct contact with an individual who is experiencing symptoms.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Current Situation

What is being done to prevent ill passengers in West Africa from getting on a plane?

CDC is assisting with active screening and education efforts on the ground in West Africa to prevent sick travelers from getting on planes. In addition, airports in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea are screening all outbound passengers for Ebola symptoms, including fever, and passengers are required to respond to a health care questionnaire. CDC is also increasing support to the region by deploying 50 additional workers to help build capacity on the ground.

What is CDC doing in the U.S.?

On the remote possibility that an ill passenger enters the U.S., CDC has protocols in place to protect against further spread of the disease. These include notification to CDC of ill passengers on a plane before arrival, investigation of ill travelers, and, if necessary, isolation. CDC has also provided guidance to airlines for managing ill passengers and crew and for disinfecting aircraft. CDC has issued a Health Alert Notice reminding U.S. health care workers of the importance of taking steps to prevent the spread of this virus, how to test and isolate suspected patients and how they can protect themselves from infection.

What about ill Americans with Ebola who are being brought to the U.S. for treatment? How is CDC protecting the American public?

CDC has very well-established protocols in place to ensure the care of patients with infectious diseases and their safe transport back to the U.S. These procedures cover the entire process -- from patients leaving their bed in a foreign country to their transport to an airport and boarding a non-commercial airplane equipped with a special transport isolation unit, to their arrival at a medical facility in the United States that is appropriately equipped and staffed to handle such cases. CDC's role is to ensure that travel and hospitalization is done to minimize risk of spread of infection and to ensure that the American public is protected. Patients were evacuated in similar ways during SARS.

What does the CDC's Travel Alert Level 3 mean to U.S. travelers?

On July 31, the CDC elevated their warning to U.S. citizens encouraging them to defer unnecessary travel to Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone over concerns that travelers may not have access to health care facilities and personnel should they need them in country.

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