What puts you at risk of Ebola virus infection?

The Ebola virus disease, formerly called Ebola hemorrhagic fever, is caused by Ebola virus.

The Ebola virus has five different species:

  1. Tai Forest virus (Tai Forest ebolavirus).
  2. Ebola virus (Zaire ebolavirus).
  3. Bundibugyo virus (Bundibugyo ebolavirus – previously called Cote d’Ivoire ebolavirus).
  4. Sudan virus (Sudan ebolavirus).
  5. Reston virus (Reston ebolavirus).

The first four Ebola virus species listed above infect humans and cause disease; but the Reston virus does not affect humans – it causes disease in nonhuman primates.

The risk factors include:

  • Cultures that involve practices that include handling of dead bodies of people who were infected with the virus.
  • Those who eat fruit bats.
  • Family members of infected patients, especially those who care for them while at home (before they come to the hospital).
  • Doctors and nurses who do not observe strict infection control precautions when providing health care for patients. Based on information from the World Health Organisation, health care workers have the highest risk of being infected with Ebola virus – they are 21 to 32 times more likely to be infected than other people.
  • Those who eat monkeys, chimpanzees, gorillas.
  • Cleaners in hospitals that handle the wastes and/or beddings of an infected person.
  • Health care providers caring for and treating/managing persons infected with Ebola.
  • Family members of infected persons – particularly those who were in contact with the individual after infection.
  • Friends of infected persons – especially those who came in contact with the person after he/she was infected.
  • Sexual contact with Ebola-infected individuals.
  • Sexual contact with Ebola survivors – that is, those who have had the Ebola virus disease and have recovered.
  • Residents in or visitors to an area where there is an Ebola outbreak.
  • Unprotected and direct contact with the dead body of a person who had Ebola.
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