How is the Ebola virus transmitted?

Alan R. Pope, MD
Pulmonary Disease
The Ebola virus is transmitted by direct contact with an infected person's blood or bodily fluids. You're not expected to get it by simply riding on an airplane, the subway or the bus. The common cold and flu are much more contagious than Ebola.

Bodily fluids include saliva, mucus, sweat, vomit, feces and urine. The Ebola virus also can survive on dry surfaces for a few hours and last up to several days in bodily fluids or in puddles at room temperature. So do not handle items that may have come into contact with a contaminated person's bodily fluids, including clothing, bedding, bandages, needles and medical equipment.
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Ebola virus is spread through direct contact with the body fluids of a person who is sick with or has died from Ebola; objects (like needles and syringes) that have been contaminated with infected body fluids; infected fruit bats or nonhuman primates (apes and monkeys); and, possibly from contact with semen from a man who has recovered from Ebola (for example, by having oral, vaginal, or anal sex). The virus in blood and body fluids can enter another person’s body through broken skin or unprotected mucous membranes in, for example, the eyes, nose, or mouth.

There is no evidence that Ebola can spread from person to person before symptoms start, through the air, or through coughing or sneezing; but as a precaution, people should avoid contact with respiratory droplets (splashes or sprays) of people with Ebola.

Ebola is not spread through the air or by water or, in general, by food. However, in Africa, Ebola may be spread as a result of handling bushmeat (wild animals hunted for food) and contact with infected bats. There is no evidence that mosquitoes or other insects can transmit Ebola virus. Only mammals (for example, humans, monkeys, and apes) have shown the ability to become infected with and spread Ebola virus.

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Continue Learning about Ebola



Ebola virus disease is a severe, often fatal illness in humans. It is caused by a family of viruses that originate in central and west Africa. The disease is rare and occurs in sporadic outbreaks. Ebola is spread through direct co...

ntact with the bodily fluids of infected individuals or objects, such as needles or bedsheets, that have been contaminated with the virus. Your risk of contracting Ebola is very low unless you visit an area where it is widespread. There are no approved treatments for the disease, but some experimental treatments have shown promise. Vaccines are currently under development.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.