• For Public
  • For Healthcare Professionals

Ebola Virus Disease

Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), previously known as Ebola Haemorrhagic Fever, is a rare disease which causes severe, often fatal illness in humans.

29 Jul 2019

Understanding Ebola Virus Disease (EVD)

Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), previously known as Ebola Haemorrhagic Fever, is a rare disease which causes severe, often fatal illness in humans. There have been several Ebola outbreaks in Africa since the disease first appeared in 1976. The disease affects humans and nonhuman primates (e.g. monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees).  The origin of the virus is unknown but fruit bats are considered the likely host of the Ebola virus.

How is EVD transmitted

The Ebola virus is transmitted through direct contact with:

  • Blood or body fluids (urine, saliva, sweat, faeces, vomit, breast milk, semen) of a person who is sick with or has died from EVD
  • Objects (such as clothes, bedding, needles, and syringes) that are contaminated with infected body fluids from a person with EVD
  • Blood or body fluids of infected fruit bats or nonhuman primates

Symptoms of EVD



The following symptoms of EVD are commonly experienced at the beginning of the disease:

  • Sudden onset of fever
  • Intense weakness
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Fatigue

As the disease progresses, infected persons commonly develop vomiting and diarrhoea, rash, impaired kidney and liver dysfunction and in some cases, bleeding. Symptoms may appear from 2 to 21 days following infection (i.e. incubation period). People with the infection become infectious only when they start to develop symptoms. 

Treatment

There is no commercially available vaccine or curative treatment for EVD. Patients with EVD are managed with symptomatic treatment and supportive care. If diagnosed and managed early, these can significantly improve the chances of survival.

Current situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo

The Ministry of Health (MOH) has been closely monitoring the EVD situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The current Ebola outbreak, which is centred in the North Kivu and Ituri provinces of eastern DRC, was first declared on 1 August 2018. Further details of the EVD situation in the DRC are available on the WHO website.

MOH’s current assessment is that the outbreak of EVD in DRC poses a low public health risk to Singapore. This is because there is low travel connectivity between Singapore and the DRC and nature of transmission requires direct contact with blood or bodily fluids of those infected.

Travel to affected areas

The public are advised to avoid unnecessary travel to affected areas. However, if travelling to affected areas in the DRC is unavoidable, we advise travellers to maintain their vigilance and adopt the following health precautions:

  • Practise frequent hand washing (e.g. after going to toilet, or when hands are soiled); when soap and running water are unavailable, an alcohol-based hand rub can be used instead. The virus can be destroyed by such disinfectants.
  • Avoid direct contact with blood or other bodily fluids of infected living or dead persons or animals, as well as objects that may have become contaminated with these infectious fluids, such as soiled clothing, bed sheets, or used needles;
  • Avoid participating in burial ceremonies which require direct contact with the body of a deceased infected person.
  • Avoid contact with wild animals, including bats, monkeys, apes, chimpanzee and gorillas, whether alive or dead, including their raw or undercooked meat;
  • Returning travellers from countries with reported EVD activity or travellers who suspect that they have been exposed to EVD should seek immediate medical attention if they develop any symptoms (i.e. sudden onset of high fever, stomach pain, diarrhoea, vomiting, rash or bleeding). They should inform their doctor of their recent travel or contact history.

For more information

  • Call us on our hotline 1800 225 4122