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If a doctor suspects a diagnosis of Ebola, he or she will ask about the person's medical history and perform a physical exam. Identifying it early can be difficult, due to the fact that early symptoms are similar to those of other medical conditions. The doctor may order lab tests that can identify the virus itself or antibodies that the body makes to fight the Ebola virus.

How Is Ebola Diagnosed?

In order to diagnose Ebola, the doctor will ask a number of questions, including questions about:
  • Symptoms
  • Current medical conditions
  • Family history of medical conditions
  • Current medications.
The doctor will also perform a physical exam, looking for signs and symptoms of Ebola. If the doctor suspects an infection with the virus, he or she will order labs tests that can identify the virus itself or antibodies made by the body against the virus.

Challenges of Diagnosing Ebola

Diagnosing hemorrhagic fever early in an individual can be difficult. A person who has been infected only a few days will have early Ebola symptoms, such as red eyes and a skin rash; however, these are not specific to the Ebola virus and are seen with conditions that occur much more frequently.
Other medical conditions can cause symptoms similar to Ebola and must be ruled out when making a diagnosis. These include:
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Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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