Today at Berkeley Lab

Facts and Impacts of Ebola Virus


The overall threat to Berkeley Lab personnel from the Ebola virus remains very low; however, Protective Services and Health Services have developed general information for public awareness as well as to promote infection prevention and control measures. The current Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak is reportedly centered in Africa, particularly in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone (

The World Health Organization (WHO) does not recommend any travel or trade restrictions be applied at this time unless an individual has a confirmed or suspected case of EVD. Currently, there have been no confirmed cases of Ebola in the United States, although two relief workers who contracted the disease in Liberia were flown to the U.S. for treatment earlier this month. Both patients were released from the hospital this week. On August 20, 2014, a Northern California patient was admitted to Kaiser’s South Sacramento Medical Center after possible exposure. Results of the patient’s blood test came back negative for the virus.


Ebola Virus Disease, formerly known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever, is a very rare, but severe and often fatal illness. The disease affects both animals and humans. According to the World Health Organization, Ebola is introduced into the human population through close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals. Ebola is not an air-borne disease and has been transmitted because of inappropriate infection prevention and control measures. There is currently no licensed specific treatment or vaccine available for people or animals.

The current outbreak began earlier this year in Guinea and has spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone. Heightened media attention surrounds this recent breakout due to the large number of cases and fatalities, the highest in recorded history. To date, there are an estimated 2473 cases and 1350 deaths (WHO, August 19, 2014).

Key Facts and Advice

• Symptoms are flu-like and typically start two days to three weeks after contracting the virus.
• If you or a loved one have traveled from the areas where Ebola cases have been recently reported seek immediate medical attention if you feel sick (fever over 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit, severe headache, muscle pain, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, or unexplained hemorrhage) and had contact with bodily fluids of a patient or animal having or suspected to have Ebola.
• Severely ill patients can sometimes develop internal and external bleeding, impaired kidney or liver function, and would require intensive supportive care.

Laboratory employees are reminded of the following general health recommendations:

• Practice good hygiene. Wash hands carefully and frequently with soap and water or alcohol-based gels (hand sanitizers) after restroom use.
• Avoid contact with blood and body fluids or handling items that may have come in contact.
• Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue whenever you cough or sneeze.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
• Use surface disinfectants for cleaning commonly touched surfaces (computers, telephones, break areas, work surfaces, microwaves, refrigerator door handles, and door handles).
• Use personal protective equipment, if necessary.
• GET A FLU SHOT! Each year 16,000 to 20,000 people die from flu complications in the United States.

If you have any concerns or questions, contact Health Services at x6266, [email protected] or your local medical provider.