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Ebola Virus Disease Preparedness in Louisiana

While experts tell us Ebola poses no significant risk to the United States (U.S.), citizens, leadership and the emergency management community should know about the Ebola virus disease and know that Louisiana is prepared for a possible outbreak should one occur.


What is the Ebola virus disease?

Ebola, previously known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever, is a rare and deadly disease caused by infection with one of the Ebola virus strains. Ebola can cause disease in humans and nonhuman primates (monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees).


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) , the leading authorities on Ebola – Ebola is caused by infection with a virus of the family Filoviridae, genus Ebolavirus.


There are five (5) identified Ebola virus species, four (4) of which are known to cause disease in humans:

  • Ebola virus (Zaire ebolavirus)
  • Sudan virus (Sudan ebolavirus)
  • Taï Forest virus (Taï Forest ebolavirus, formerly Côte d’Ivoire ebolavirus)
  • Bundibugyo virus (Bundibugyo ebolavirus)


The fifth (5th) – Reston virus (Reston ebolavirus) – has caused disease in nonhuman primates, but not in humans.


What is the Ebola virus disease?

Ebola viruses are found in several African countries.  Ebola was first discovered in 1976 near the Ebola River in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Since then, outbreaks have appeared sporadically in Africa and elsewhere.


The natural reservoir host of Ebola virus remains unknown. However, on the basis of evidence and the nature of similar viruses, researchers believe that the virus is animal-borne and that bats are the most likely reservoir. Four (4) of the five (5) virus strains occur in an animal host native to Africa


While there have been very few documented cases of Ebola in the U.S., Ebola has worldwide consequences.


How do people get Ebola virus disease?

People get Ebola by direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes in, for example, the eyes, nose, or mouth) with:

  • Blood or body fluids (including but not limited to urine, saliva, sweat, feces, vomit, breast milk and semen) of a person who is sick with or has died from Ebola.
  • Objects (like needles and syringes) that have been contaminated with body fluids from a person who is sick with Ebola or the body of a person who has died from Ebola.
  • Infected fruit bats or primates (apes and monkeys).
  • Possibly from contact with semen from a man who has recovered from Ebola (for example, by having oral, vaginal or anal sex). 

What are Ebola virus disease symptoms? 

Ebola can be fatal. Initial signs and symptoms include increasingly severe:

  • Sudden fever
  • Chills
  • Muscle aches
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain 

As symptoms increase in severity patients may display:

  • Jaundice (yellow skin)
  • Severe weight loss
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Fatigue
  • Bleeding inside and outside of the body
  • Shock
  • Multi-organ failure


The best defense is stay away from someone suspected of having Ebola:
  • Isolate the patient.
  • Avoid direct unprotected bodily contact with the patient AND ay objects or surfaces with which he/she has had direct contact.
  • Call 911.
It is important to know that once a patient has recovered from Ebola, he/she can no longer spread the virus.
If you suspect a case of Ebola, call 911

Louisiana's response to Ebola Virus Disease

In partnership with the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH), GOHSEP has produced a Louisiana Ebola Virus Disease Response Plan in the event of cases presenting in the State.