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Infection Protection Advice Ebola


Ebola is a rare and life-threatening infectious disease. It belongs to the so-called viral hemorrhagic fever diseases (AF) and is caused by the Ebola virus (EV).

Ebola is subject to reporting.

What information should be collected from potentially affected persons?

  • Name and age of the patient
  • Detailed information about complaints/symptoms and their onset and severity
  • Indication of pre-existing conditions and medication intake, e.g. vaccinations and malaria prophylaxis (does not exclude malaria in principle), vaccinations.
  • Exact period of stay in an endemic area
  • Type and place of accommodation
  • Exact indication of the itinerary
  • Stay in caves
  • Professional activities in laboratories
  • Further information on the stay, e.g. tourism, visiting relatives, professional activity in the endemic area
  • Contact with wild animals, consumption of wild animal meat
  • Sick people in the environment, funerals

How is Ebola transmitted?

The Ebola virus can be transmitted from person to person. Transmission occurs through direct physical contact with Ebola fever patients or deceased, in particular through direct contact with their body fluids, e.g. blood, saliva, sweat, urine, stool or vomit. Before symptoms appear, people infected with the Ebola virus are not contagious.

A transmission through the air could not be proven so far.

Transmission is also possible via objects that have come into contact with infectious fluids, e.g. needles, surgical instruments, clothing or bed linen.

Even in contact with infected animals or infectious animal products, the Ebola virus can spread to humans, e.g. during hunting, meat preparation or when eating insufficiently cooked meat (so-called "bushmeat"), which comes from animals from affected areas.

How long is the incubation period?

The incubation period is at least two, but usually eight to ten days, and after 21 days it can be assumed that a disease is no longer to be expected.

How high is the risk of getting infected in sick people?

A very high risk of infection exists only with unprotected direct contact with body fluids and body excretions of Ebola fever patients and deceased, e.g. blood, saliva, sweat, urine, stool or vomit. Therefore, sufficient protective measures must be taken in the case of care, treatment and funeral activities. General hygiene measures, especially hand hygiene, are also of particular importance.

How long is the risk of infection?

A few days after symptoms subside, patients are no longer considered contagious.

Transmission by sperm during sexual intercourse is still possible for several weeks. Those affected must be informed about this and advised on the necessary preventive measures.

Which risk groups are there in Germany?

Mainly people who have had direct physical contact with Ebola fever patients or deceased or their body fluids belong to the risk group. In addition to medical personnel, this risk mainly affects caring family members of Ebola fever patients without sufficient protection. Laboratory personnel who have worked with sample material from Ebola fever patients can also be affected if protective measures against Ebola viruses were not sufficient.


The early symptoms are non-specific and resemble a flu infection: fever, headache, pain of the musculoskeletal system, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain.

In the process, other symptoms may be added, but not all of them always have to occur: internal and external bleeding (hemorrhages), which can be very severe, rash of the skin (exanthema), redness of the conjunctiva, sore throat, chest pain, difficulty swallowing and shortness of breath.

Direct contact with an Ebola patient should be avoided. Medical personnel caring for a confirmed case must comply with strict hygiene and isolation regulations.

What should a patient who suspects Ebola do?

It is very important to keep calm. A telephone contact with a doctor should be made with an indication of the suspicion of Ebola fever, a more detailed description of the symptoms, the travel locations and the duration of the trip. Then the doctor will discuss the further procedure with the patient.

However, even if you travel to one of the affected areas within the last three weeks, the probability of Ebola virus infection is very low if there was no contact with a person suffering from or dying of Ebola fever.

Procedure of the doctor: If the doctor can confirm a suspicion of an infection with the Ebola virus, the responsible health authority should be informed and contact should be made with a specialized center. Often, however, apparent suspected cases can already be ruled out in a telephone call with a specialized center.

Contact details of specialised centres can be found under www.stakob.de.

If the condition allows, the patient should remain on site until confirmation or exclusion of a suspected Ebola, e.g. at home, in the doctor's office or on the hospital ward in isolation. No instruction should be given to a rescue centre. Transports should also be avoided as far as possible in order to prevent infections.

What kind of prevention measures are there?

Unprotected direct contact with an Ebola fever patient or deceased person must be strictly avoided. Medical personnel caring for a well-founded suspected case or a patient with confirmed Ebola virus infection must comply with strict hygiene and isolation regulations.

There is no approved vaccine.

Is there a specific therapy?

There is no approved specific therapy. The treatment is therefore exclusively symptomatic, the quality of medical care has an influence on mortality. The few specific therapeutic approaches are experimental.

What do travelers need to consider?

The Federal Foreign Office provides information on medical risks abroad on its website. It provides information on countries and leaflets ondiseases . Information for travellers in several languages is also provided by the Federal Association ÖGD and the ECDC .

In addition to specialized doctors, tropical institutes and some health authorities offer individual advice to travelers.

How likely is it that Ebola fever will occur in Germany?

The risk of travelers bringing the disease to Germany or Europe is low, but it cannot be ruled out. People in the closest environment of the patients would have a risk of infection due to human-to-human transmission. However, there is no danger to the population because Germany is thoroughly prepared for the treatment of people suffering from Ebola fever. There is a network of special isolation stations, which are designed both by medical expertise and by the technical requirements for the treatment of such diseases (Working Group of Competence and Treatment Centers, STAKOB, www.stakob.rki.de). The staff there is specially trained for this situation and regularly trains the care of patients under isolation conditions.

What happens if an Ebola fever case is introduced into Germany?

There is only a small risk that a person infected with the Ebola virus will enter Germany. Should a patient nevertheless enter, a spread of the Ebola virus in Germany is practically impossible due to the good medical care and preparations for such events.

If passengers experience symptoms typical of Ebola during the flight, the pilot should inform the relevant airport, which must have the status of a medical airport, in accordance with international health regulations. There, the patient would be isolated and questioned by a doctor from the responsible health authority. If the suspicion of Ebola fever is confirmed, the traveler would be taken to a special isolation unit for diagnosis and treatment. At the same time, people who have been in close contact with such patients (seat neighbors and people who have cared for the patient directly) would be registered by the health department and asked to pay attention to Ebola-typical symptoms in the next 21 days (maximum incubation period).

If a person infected with the Ebola virus only falls ill in Germany, he would also be admitted to a special isolation ward as soon as the justified suspicion of Ebola fever is established. All persons who have had close contact with her are identified and registered by the responsible health authority by interviewing the patient and his relatives or caregivers, informed about the possible infection and monitored for Symptoms typical of Ebola in their everyday environment for 21 days.

Before symptoms appear, people infected with the Ebola virus are not contagious.

As the National Public Health Institute, the RKI works closely with the federal states to protect against infection. Federal states with an international airport have experience in dealing with diseases introduced from the tropics.

Robert Koch Institute

The text was automatically translated based on the German content.

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