Q&As on Ebola Transmission (From The Centers for Disease Control)

Written by Jesse Neumann. Posted in Respiratory Health Articles - Corner Medical Blog

Respiratory Image From the Respiratory Staff at Corner Medical

What are body fluids?

Ebola has been detected in blood and many body fluids. Body fluids include saliva, mucus, vomit, feces, sweat, tears, breast milk, urine, and semen.

Can Ebola spread by coughing? By sneezing?

Unlike respiratory illnesses like measles or chickenpox, which can be transmitted by virus particles that remain suspended in the air after an infected person coughs or sneezes, Ebola is transmitted by direct contact with body fluids of a person who has symptoms of Ebola disease. Although coughing and sneezing are not common symptoms of Ebola, if a symptomatic patient with Ebola coughs or sneezes on someone, and saliva or mucus come into contact with that person’s eyes, nose or mouth, these fluids may transmit the disease.

What does “direct contact” mean?

Direct contact means that body fluids (blood, saliva, mucus, vomit, urine, or feces) from an infected person (alive or dead) have touched someone’s eyes, nose, or mouth or an open cut, wound, or abrasion.

How long does Ebola live outside the body?

Ebola is killed with hospital-grade disinfectants (such as household bleach). Ebola dried on surfaces such as doorknobs and countertops can survive for several hours; however, virus in body fluids (such as blood) can survive up to several days at room temperature.

Are patients who recover from Ebola immune for life? Can they get it again – the same or a different strain?

Recovery from Ebola depends on good supportive clinical care and a patient’s immune response. Available evidence shows that people who recover from Ebola infection develop antibodies that last for at least 10 years, possibly longer.

We don’t know if people who recover are immune for life or if they can become infected with a different species of Ebola.

If someone survives Ebola, can he or she still spread the virus?

Once someone recovers from Ebola, they can no longer spread the virus. However, Ebola virus has been found in semen for up to 3 months. Abstinence from sex (including oral sex) is recommended for at least 3 months. If abstinence is not possible, condoms may help prevent the spread of disease.

Can Ebola be spread through mosquitos?

There is no evidence that mosquitos or other insects can transmit Ebola virus. Only mammals (for example, humans, bats, monkeys and apes) have shown the ability to spread and become infected with Ebola virus.