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Doctors' Answers to "Frequently Asked Questions" - Ebola Virus
Ebola Virus [posted 7/23/98]
Answer: First, one must know the infectious vector responsible for Ebola. A vaccine is being considered, but the frequency of the disease precludes this currently. Usually a vaccine is cost effective only when the numbers rise, or when the endemic areas can be clearly identified. Isolation is the best current treatment - and education to recognize the symptoms prior to larger numbers being exposed. Due to the fact the Ebola currently is only spread by blood, etc., the infectious risk is low as long as isolation procedures are utilized. There is currently no antibiotic treatment available and likely there will not be.
Answer: Ebola virus was initially found in central Africa. To date, it is not clear what the
source of the initial (or subsequent) infections stem. Several of the initial contacts
center on a cave in Africa and it is not clear if the spread is through insect vectors, animal
vectors, aerosol, etc. The subsequent spread was through blood and blood products. It does
not seem to spread easily through respiratory or simple contact. Consequently, simple use of
gloves and gowns prevent spread of this deadly virus. There are several good books
available on the spread of this virus and the CDCs effort to find the source. These books are all
available at most libraries.