Ebola Virus Disease (EVD)

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It's vital for nurses to stay well-informed about Ebola virus disease (EVD) in order to care for patients, and educate our patients and the public with the proper information. The most at-risk people for Ebola during an outbreak are healthcare workers and those in close contact with infected individuals. It is therefore critical that, for our own safety as well as that of our patients, we are aware of current guidelines for personal protective equipment. Please use the information on this page from the CDC and WHO to educate yourself and others about this Ebola virus disease.

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  • Symptoms of EVD include:
    • fever
    • headache
    • joint and muscle aches
    • weakness
    • diarrhea
    • vomiting
    • stomach pain
    • lack of appetite
    • abnormal bleeding
  • Other symptoms can include rash, red eyes, hiccups, cough, sore throat, chest pain, difficulty breathing or swallowing, and internal or external bleeding.
  • Symptoms of EVD can appear from two to 21 days after exposure, though eight to ten days is common.
  • An individual without symptoms is NOT contagious.
  • EVD is transmitted through direct contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids or exposure via contaminated needles. It is not transmitted through water, air, or food.
  • Diagnosis is difficult because early symptoms are nonspecific. If EVD is suspected, laboratory testing includes ELISA, IgM ELISA, PCR, virus isolation, and IgM and IgG antibodies (used later in the course of EVD).
  • Treatment of EVD involves supportive therapy related to maintaining fluid and electrolyte balance, oxygenation, blood pressure support, and treating complications.


Be alert for EVD in patients with fever of 38.6 degrees Celsius (101.5 degrees Fahrenheit); symptoms such as severe headache, muscle pain, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, or unexplained hemorrhage; and risk factors within the past 3 weeks (travel history to affected countries, exposure to individual with EVD, or direct handling of bats, rodents, or primates from disease-endemic countries). 
  • EVD patients should be isolated in a private room with standard, contact, and droplet precautions in place.
  • The CDC has specific recommendations related to infection prevention and control, including the use of the following personal protective equipment (PPE):
    • Double gloves
    • Waterproof boot covers that go to at least mid-calf or waterproof leg covers
    • Single use fluid resistant or imperable gown that extends to at least mid-calf  or coverall without intergraded hood.
    • Respirators, including either N95 respirators or powered air purifying respirator (PAPR)
    • Single-use, full-face shield that is disposable
    • Surgical hoods to ensure complete coverage of the head and neck
    • Apron that is waterproof and covers the torso to the level of the mid-calf should be used if Ebola patients have vomiting or diarrhea
  • Visitors should be restricted. Exceptions may be considered on an individual basis, and then visitors should be trained and a logbook kept of all who enter the room

Related Reading

Ebola Preparedness in the Netherlands: The Need for Coordination Between the Public Health and the Curative Sector
Journal of Public Health Management & Practice, January/February 2018

Local Health Departments Tweeting About Ebola: Characteristics and Messaging
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NewsCAP: A new vaccine against Ebola may be effective and safe to use in an outbreak
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Putting the Law Into Practice: A Comparison of Isolation and Quarantine As Tools to Control Tuberculosis and Ebola
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Ebola: Looking Back on a Crisis and a Calling
Journal of Christian Nursing, July/September 2016

A Comparison of Personal Protective Standards: Caring for Patients With Ebola Virus
Clinical Nurse Specialist: The Journal for Advanced Nursing Practice, March/April 2016

Ebola in West Africa: A nurse's perspective
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Ebola Virus Disease
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Ebola Outbreak 2013–2014: A Rational Examination for the Clinical Nurse Specialist
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Management of the Individual in the Home Suspected of Having Exposure to the Ebola Virus 
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Caring for Patients with Ebola
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Our Ebola Wake-Up Call
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Ebola: Are you ready?
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Nurse Informaticists Address Texas Ebola Case, EHR Design Questions 
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Addressing Nurses’ Urgent Concerns About Ebola and Protective Equipment 
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What's Next? Are We Ready? Public Health Testing Its Limits With Global Infectious Disease Threats
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Ebola Virus Disease: An Emerging Threat
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Ebola: A Nurse Epidemiologist Puts the Outbreak in Perspective
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Emergency: Mass Casualty: Ebola
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