Ebola and Marburg hemorrhagic fevers are difficult to diagnose because early signs and symptoms resemble those of other diseases, such as typhoid and malaria. If doctors suspect you have Ebola or Marburg hemorrhagic fever, they use blood tests to quickly identify the virus, including:
- Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA)
- Reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (PCR)
No antiviral medications have proved effective in treating infection with either virus. Supportive hospital care includes:
- Providing fluids
- Maintaining blood pressure
- Providing oxygen as needed
- Replacing lost blood
- Treating other infections that develop
Preparing for your appointment
The possibility of contracting Ebola or Marburg virus is extremely low unless you've had direct contact with the body fluids of an infected person or animal.
If you think that you or a family member may have been exposed to one of the viruses, call your doctor or go to the nearest emergency room immediately. If you're not referred to an infectious disease specialist, ask to see one.
If you're from the United States and traveling or working abroad, the nearest U.S. Embassy can help you find a doctor. If you're from another country, contact your country's embassy. Be sure to tell your doctor or hospital about your symptoms before your visit so that precautions can be taken to prevent transmission of the virus to others.
What you can do
Before your appointment, to help your doctor find the cause of your symptoms, write a list that answers the following questions:
- What symptoms do you have? When did they start?
- Have you recently traveled in Africa? If so, what part?
- If you were recently in Africa, did you hunt or eat monkeys?
- Did you recently visit caves or underground mines in Africa?
- Are you employed in a lab that uses monkeys from Africa or the Philippines in research?
If possible, take a family member or friend with you. Sometimes it can be difficult to remember all the information provided to you in the hospital or during an appointment. Someone who accompanies you may remember something you missed or forgot.