Updated Ebola guidance [as at 28 July 2015]
During the last two to three months, the risk of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) being imported into the UK has reduced rapidly. This is because of reduced numbers of cases in West Africa, reduced numbers of returning healthcare workers who could have been exposed to the disease, and well-established programmes for exit screening, surveillance and monitoring of returning workers. At this time, there is no change to the guidance for staff in acute Trusts nor in the information for primary care on the management of patients who may require assessment for Ebola virus disease.
Whilst the overall risk of Ebola remains low in the UK and the likelihood of contracting the virus remains minimal, we want to ensure that you are aware of the signs and symptoms of the virus and that you know what to do and where to go should you suspect you have contracted it.
We also want to reassure you that the NHS is well prepared and has a well-tested system for managing any infectious diseases that should come into the UK.
Unless you’ve come into contact with the blood or bodily fluid of an infected person (for example by providing healthcare for a person with Ebola or handling the dead body of someone who died from Ebola), there is little chance of you being infected.
The main symptoms of the Ebola virus are:
- Fever, headache, joint and muscle pain, sore throat, and intense muscle weakness. These symptoms start suddenly, between 2 and 21 days after becoming infected, but usually after 5-7 days.
- Diarrhoea, vomiting, a rash, stomach pain and impaired kidney and liver function follow.
- The patient then bleeds internally, and may also bleed from the ears, eyes, nose or mouth.
- Ebola virus disease is fatal in 50-90% of cases. The sooner a person is given care, the better the chances that they will survive.
It is unlikely but not impossible that people infected in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia could arrive in the UK while incubating the disease, and then develop symptoms after their return (the incubation period of Ebola ranges from 2 to 21 days).
What to do next?
If you suspect you have the Ebola virus then please call your GP, NHS 111 or 999, but please avoid visiting your GP or going out in public to ensure the virus does not spread.
Please note there are other illnesses that are much more common than Ebola (such as flu, typhoid fever and malaria) that have similar symptoms in the early stages, so proper medical assessment is really important to ensure you get the right diagnosis and treatment.
How to find out more
For more information on the Ebola virus please visit:
- The dedicated NHS webpage.
- Gov.uk - Ebola Public Health Question and Answers
- Gov.uk - Ebola Fact Sheet and Myth Buster