Ebola is diagnosed by doing a blood test and finding the virus in the blood of an infected person. A urine test and throat or nose swabs may also be done to look for the virus.
Once diagnosed, an infected person needs to go to hospital where they can be given intensive care such as intravenous fluids and blood transfusions. They will be isolated from other patients, and staff and visitors will need to take precautions.
There is currently no cure for Ebola. However, intensive medical care in Western nations like Australia can be life-saving. Research is underway to develop an effective vaccine for the Ebola virus.
Who is at risk of getting Ebola?
People who are living in, or travelling to, affected areas of Africa may be at risk of infection; however, this risk is extremely low unless there has been direct exposure to the bodily fluids - including blood, saliva, urine, faeces, breast milk, vomit or semen - of an infected person (including through unprotected sexual contact with confirmed cases up to several months after they have recovered), or an infected animal (alive or dead).
Caring for relatives with Ebola is a known risk factor for infection. Healthcare workers, particularly those in resource poor settings with inadequate infection control, are also at risk.
If you arrive in Australia from an Ebola-affected country and you feel unwell, you should talk to a Customs officer at your point of arrival.
If you have recently travelled to or resided in an Ebola-affected area and feel unwell, you should see a doctor or go to a hospital emergency department to discuss your symptoms and travel history and to seek advice.
Generally, if you travel to or have recently resided in an African country and feel unwell, you may not have been infected by Ebola virus but you may have had exposure to other serious illnesses that share the same symptoms. Seeing a doctor early is advised.
Find out more about border measures for Ebola here.
Visit the Department of Health website for more information on Ebola, including:
- general Ebola information
- symptoms and risk factors for Ebola virus infection
- a list of countries affected by Ebola (or visual maps on the WHO website)
- what to do if you have been in an Ebola-affected country.
Last reviewed: January 2017