In order to make a 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 the virus.
Before making a diagnosis of Ebola, the doctor will also consider other conditions that can cause similar symptoms. Some of these conditions include:
- Influenza (the flu)
- Malaria (disease transmitted by an infected mosquito)
- Typhoid fever (disease transmitted by contaminated food or water)
- Other viral hemorrhagic fevers.
(Click Ebola Diagnosis for more information.)
There is only one Ebola cure: time. There is currently no proven treatment that can kill the virus. Thus, treatment focuses on providing relief from symptoms as the body fights the virus. This is called supportive care.
(Click Ebola Treatment for more information on this topic.)
Death occurs in between 50 and 90 percent of cases. 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.
In the aftermath of the events of September and October 2001, there is heightened concern that the Ebola virus might be used as an agent of bioterrorism. The deliberate release of Ebola 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) calls the Ebola virus a Category A agent. Category A agents are believed to present the greatest potential threat for harming public health and have a moderate to high potential for large-scale dissemination (spread). The public is generally more aware of Category A agents, and broad-based public health preparedness efforts are necessary. Other Category A agents include: