Ebola (or Ebola virus disease, EVD) is a very serious disease that can be fatal. It is mainly found in tropical Central and West Africa.
Confirmed and suspected cases from an Ebola outbreak in West Africa continue to be reported in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
It is very unlikely that anyone with Ebola will arrive in New Zealand and extremely unlikely that Ebola would spread within New Zealand. The Ministry of Health assessment is that the risk to New Zealand from Ebola remains low, and health and border authorities are well prepared.
Low risk of Ebola in New Zealand
It’s very unlikely that someone with Ebola will arrive in New Zealand. This is because:
- the current outbreak is mainly affecting three countries in West Africa (Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia), and even in these countries the disease is not common
- there are very few people who travel from Ebola-affected countries to New Zealand, and very few people who travel from New Zealand to those countries.
Ebola is not easy to catch – it is not spread through the air and is not as infectious as the flu or measles. You can’t catch Ebola just by sitting next to an infected person – it requires contact with infected body fluids (such as blood, saliva, urine or faeces) through broken skin or mucous membranes (such as the mouth or eyes).
Feeling unwell after travelling overseas?
If you have been in an Ebola-affected country in the past 21 days, and you develop fever or other symptoms of Ebola, phone your GP, nurse or Healthline on 0800 611 116 and say where you have been travelling.
If a person arrives at a health clinic (GP) or hospital, they will be assessed and asked about recent overseas travel. The chances of someone having Ebola are very low.
If they fit the criteria for a suspected case of Ebola, the health clinic or hospital will notify the local Medical Officer of Health and the Ministry of Health. Notification of a suspected case will trigger contact tracing and follow up by public health officers.
Testing for Ebola will be carried out by a laboratory in Australia. It will take up to 72 hours for test results to be known.
Signs and symptoms of Ebola
Signs and symptoms of Ebola appear between 2 and 21 days after infection (usually between 8 and 10 days). Early signs and symptoms include sudden onset of fever (>38.5C), weakness, muscle and joint pains and headache. The initial symptoms are similar to other more common diseases such as the common cold, the flu or malaria. People with Ebola are not infectious before symptoms appear.
As the disease progresses, symptoms can include bleeding from the nose, gums and bruising, diarrhoea (may be bloody), skin rash, sore throat and difficulty swallowing.
Latest news and information
See the latest Ebola news and information on the following websites:
- Ministry of Health
- World Health Organization (WHO)
- Communicable Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
See the latest travel information on the following websites:
- Safe travel information from safetravel.govt.nz
- Advice from the Ministry of Health for people considering travel to Ebola-affected countries
Information for health professionals
Information for health professionals is available on the Ministry of Health website:
Last updated: Thursday, May 25, 2017