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How is the Ebola virus transmitted?

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.

Dr. Alan R. Pope, MD
Pulmonary Disease Specialist

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.

Trinity Health recognizes that people seek medical information on a variety of topics for a variety of reasons. Trinity Health does not condone or support all practices covered in this site. As a Catholic health care organization, Trinity Health acts in accordance with the Catholic tradition.

Please note, the information contained on this website is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of a qualified health care provider if you have questions regarding your medical condition or before starting any new treatment. In the event of a medical emergency always call 911 or proceed to your nearest emergency care facility.

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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.