What is the diagnosis for Ebola?

Diagnosing Ebola in a person who has been infected for only a few days is difficult because the early symptoms, such as fever, are nonspecific to Ebola infection and often are seen in patients with more common diseases, such as malaria and typhoid fever.

However, a person should be isolated and public health authorities notified if they have the early symptoms of Ebola and have had contact with

  • blood or body fluids from a person sick with or who has died from Ebola,
  • objects that have been contaminated with the blood or body fluids of a person sick with or who has died from Ebola,
  • infected fruit bats and primates (apes and monkeys), or
  • semen from a man who has recovered from Ebola

Samples from the patient can then be collected and tested to confirm infection.

Ebola virus is detected in blood only after onset of symptoms, most notably fever, which accompany the rise in circulating virus within the patient's body. It may take up to three days after symptoms start for the virus to reach detectable levels. Laboratory tests used in diagnosis include:

Timeline of InfectionDiagnostic tests availableWithin a few days after symptoms begin
  • Antigen-capture enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) testing
  • Polymerase chain reaction (PCR)
  • Virus isolation
Later in disease course or after recovery
  • IgM and IgG antibodies
Retrospectively in deceased patients
  • Immunohistochemistry testing
  • PCR
  • Virus isolation

Source: http://www.cdc.gov