How Is It Diagnosed?When making an Ebola fever diagnosis, the doctor will ask a number of questions and perform a physical exam. If the doctor suspects an Ebola virus infection, he or she will order labs tests that can identify either the virus itself or antibodies made by the body against it.
The doctor will also consider other conditions that can cause similar symptoms before making a diagnosis. Some of these conditions include:
- Typhoid fever (disease transmitted by contaminated food or water)
- Malaria (disease transmitted by an infected mosquito)
- Influenza (the flu)
- Other viral hemorrhagic fevers.
Time is the only cure. There is currently neither a proven vaccine that can prevent an infection, nor a treatment that can kill the virus. Thus, treatment for Ebola fever focuses on providing relief from symptoms as the body fights the infection. This is called supportive care.
Typically, between 50 and 90 percent of Ebola fever patients will not survive the infection. Research scientists do not understand why some people are able to recover from Ebola hemorrhagic fever and others are not; however, it is known that victims usually have not developed a significant immune response to the virus at the time of death.
There has been heightened concern that the Ebola virus might be used as an agent of bioterrorism. The deliberate release of Ebola fever virus is now regarded as a possibility, and the United States is taking precautions to deal with this.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) classifies the Ebola virus as a Category A agent. Category A agents have a moderate to high potential for large-scale dissemination (spread) and are believed to present the greatest potential threat to public health. The public is generally more aware of Category A agents, and broad-based public health preparedness efforts are necessary. Other Category A agents include: