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Disease Surveillance & Control

Current Communicable Disease Information

Ebola (Ebola Virus Disease)

Last Updated 3/20/2015 - The City of Milwaukee Health Department continues to closely follow information regarding the 2014 Ebola outbreak currently affecting the three West African countries of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, as well as cases in the United States. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated Ebola does not pose a significant threat to the U.S. public.

All Milwaukee-area travelers who have been to the affected countries within the past 21 days are asked to contact the City of Milwaukee Health Department at (414) 286-3624 during business hours or (414) 286-2150 after hours.

For the most up-to-date information, guidance and resources, please visit the CDC's Ebola information page here and the State of Wisconsin Department of Health services website here. For further information, please see the links below.

General information:

Guidance for health care providers:

Frequently Asked Questions: (Download in English) (Download in Spanish)

What is Ebola?
Ebola is a hemorrhagic fever virus caused by the Ebola virus. It affects many of the body’s organ systems and often causes severe illness. Symptoms of Ebola most commonly start eight to 10 days after coming into contact with Ebola virus, but can occur as early as two days or up to 21 days after exposure.

What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of Ebola include: fever, headache, joint and muscle aches, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, lack of appetite and abnormal bleeding.

How is Ebola spread?
Ebola is spread by direct contact with blood or other body fluids (vomit, diarrhea, urine, breast milk, sweat, semen) of an infected person who has symptoms of Ebola or who has recently died from Ebola. It may also be spread through objects or surfaces contaminated with body fluids of a person infected with Ebola virus, such as clothing or bedding.

Ebola is NOT spread through the air or by water, or in general food. However, in Africa, Ebola may be spread as a result of handling bush meat (wild animals hunted for food) and contact with infected bats.

A person infected with Ebola virus cannot pass it to others before any symptoms appear.

Who can spread Ebola to others?
For a person to spread Ebola to others, they must have been in an area within the last 21 days where Ebola disease is occurring AND have been in contact with the blood or body fluids (such as vomit, diarrhea, urine, breast milk, sweat, semen) of a person with Ebola or who has died from Ebola AND develop Ebola symptoms.

Who is at risk?
The risk of catching Ebola for the general public is low in the United States. Health care providers or family members caring for a person with Ebola are at highest risk because they may come in contact with blood or body fluids of a diagnosed patient. Ebola is not spread by casual contact.

How can I protect myself?
Avoid non-essential travel to areas affected by the Ebola outbreak. If you are in an affected area:
                - Avoid contact with blood and body fluids of those who are ill.
                - Do not handle items that have come in contact with an infected person’s blood or body fluids.
                - Use protective clothing (gloves, gown, masks, eyewear) when caring for sick persons.
                - Avoid contact with sick or dead animals and do not eat wild animals or bush meat.
                - Avoid funeral or burial rituals that require handling the body.
                - Monitor your health for 21 days after leaving the affected area. Seek medical care immediately
                 if you develop symptoms of Ebola.

Bacterial Meningitis (Meningococcal Disease)

Meningitis occurs when the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord known as the meninges become inflamed due to an infection of the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord.  Meningitis has many causes, usually bacteria or viruses, but meningitis can also be caused by physical injury, cancer or certain drugs.  The most severe type of bacterial meningitis is caused by a bacteria called Neisseria meningitidis and can cause a life-threatening illness called meningococcal disease. 

Symptoms of meningococcal disease include high fever, headache, and stiff neck, which are common symptoms of most types of meningitis. These symptoms can develop over several hours. Other symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, discomfort looking into bright lights, confusion, and sleepiness.  Some infections can also occur or spread to the blood, causing severe disease and death.  The time period between the start of the symptoms and death can be as little as 24-48 hours.  Early treatment with antibiotics is critical. 

Meningococcal disease is spread by close personal contact like kissing, or sharing anything that you put into the mouth (cups, bottles, cigarettes). Family members may also be at increased risk. But without this kind of contact, you face no special risk of getting this illness.  Anyone who knows they had close personal contact with someone with meningococcal disease call their doctor or health care provider as soon as possible so that they can be prescribed antibiotics to prevent disease.  The risk of getting this illness is generally very low, even for people who have had close personal contact with an ill individual.  

A vaccine is available that can prevent 4 of the 5 most common types of Neisseria meningitidis bacteria that cause meningoccocal disease.  Anyone living in a closed community setting (such as college students living in dormitories, military personnel) should receive the meningococcal vaccine.  Routine vaccination of children as early as age 11 is now recommended by the CDC.  A booster dose is now needed five years after the intial dose.  It is not known how long immunity lasts from the vaccination.

For more information, please click on the following links:

Staphylococcus: Methycillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus

Click on the links to read the corresponding documents:

Antibiotic Resistance 

It's really important to take all medications, including antibiotics, exactly as your healthcare provider tells you to.

Communicable Disease and Food

Communicable Disease and Water

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