Ebola Preparedness and Prevention

Ebola symptoms are not uncommon.

Ebola virus disease symptoms can appear very similarly to any typical gastrointestinal illness, with main symptoms like fever (greater than 38.6°C or 100.4°F), severe headache, muscle pain, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain and unexplained bleeding or bruising. Symptoms may appear 2 to 21 days after exposure, but the average time is between 8-10 days. A person infected with Ebola is not contagious until symptoms appear.

What differentiates the probability that one has the typical cough and cold, or another virus like the flu, from Ebola virus disease is a patient’s travel history or contact with someone who has just returned from overseas travel, particularly to the countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. Unless a patient has come in to contact with a person with an Ebola infection, the risk of contracting the disease is very low.

As a result of recent developments surrounding an imported case of Ebola into the West African Nation of Mali, the CDC has directed travelers returning from Mali be screened and monitored in the same manner as individuals returning from Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.

Learn more: Is it Flu or Ebola?

You can’t get Ebola through air, water or food*.

Ebola is only transmitted through direct contact with the blood or bodily fluid (including urine, saliva, feces and breast milk) of an infected person or through objects like needles and syringes or open membranes (like the eyes and nose). In addition, if the food consumed is grown in or legally purchased in the U.S., your chances of contracting Ebola virus disease through food is very slim.

*The virus could be spread through handling of bushmeat in Africa (like monkeys, apes and bats).

Madigan is preparing.

Madigan Army Medical Center is preparing for the potential exposure to a patient presenting Ebola virus disease signs and symptoms. Madigan staff are training and maintaining up-to-date on guidance from the CDC on how to don/doff personal protection equipment as well as how to conduct initial screening of all patients.

There is no cure or licensed treatment for Ebola, but it is not unmanageable; with early detection of symptoms and excellent supportive care, the likelihood of complete recovery is very good.

What if I think I have Ebola?

If you are showing signs and symptoms of Ebola AND have travelled to Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone (or come in to contact with someone who has) within the last 30 days:

  • Call the TRICARE Regional Appointment Center at (800) 404-4506 during NORMAL HOURS OF OPERATION (Weekdays, 6:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.; Weekends, 7:00 a.m.-3:30 p.m.) and inform them of your symptoms and travel history. TRICARE will connect you directly with a Madigan provider who will give you further care instructions.

  • If you need to call after normal operating hours, dial (253) 968-1110. Inform the Madigan representative of your symptoms and travel history and he will connect you with our Transfer Center personnel who will get more information about your current health status.

If you are not at risk for exposure to Ebola given the travel screening or the direct contact with an Ebola patient, but are displaying many of the same symptoms, please call the TRICARE Nurse Advice Line at (800) TRICARE to get professional medical advice and follow-up care options.

As stated before, travel history to/from West Africa (particularly the countries of Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia and Mali) is your main variable when trying to discern flu/common cold-like symptoms with Ebola. The primary way we can assist in providing you excellent care is if you share your overseas travel history within the last 30 days with your primary care provider either over the phone or via MHS GENESIS Patient Portal.

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