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Transmission of Ebola

Exposure to blood or bodily secretions of an infected person and direct contact with the person are common means of Ebola transmission. During outbreaks, the virus spreads rapidly in hospitals. One subtype of Ebola was reported in a primate research facility in Virginia, where it appears that transmission occurred through the air; however, this has not been seen among humans.

How Is Ebola Transmitted?

Transmission of Ebola occurs through direct contact with an infected person or his or her body fluids (such as blood or secretions). This occurs most often during the late stages of an infection.
Direct Contact With an Infected Person
One way that Ebola is transmitted is through direct contact with an infected person. This most often occurs at a burial ceremony where mourners touch recently deceased victims.
Exposure to Infected Body Fluids
Another way that transmission of Ebola occurs involves direct contact with the blood or secretions of an infected person. In this situation, the virus often spreads to the patient's family and friends because they come in close contact with such secretions when caring for the infected person. People can also be exposed to the virus through contact with objects, such as needles, that have been contaminated with infected secretions.

How Does Transmission of Ebola Occur in Hospitals?

During Ebola outbreaks, transmission of the virus in hospitals is quite common. In African healthcare facilities, people with Ebola are often cared for without the use of a mask, gown, or gloves. Exposure to the virus has occurred when healthcare workers treated individuals with Ebola hemorrhagic fever without wearing these types of protective clothing.
In addition, when needles or syringes are used, they may not be of the disposable type, or may not have been sterilized, but are only rinsed before reinsertion into multiuse vials of medicine. If needles or syringes become contaminated with the virus and are then reused, numerous people can become infected.

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