How to diagnose Ebola? Lab tests are similar for most viral diseases - ELISA and PCR

Diagnosing Ebola in an 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 are seen often in patients with more commonly occurring diseases.

However, if a person has the early symptoms of Ebola and has had contact with the blood or body fluids of a person sick with Ebola, contact with objects that have been contaminated with the blood or body fluids of a person sick with Ebola, or contact with infected animals, or suggestive travel history, they should be isolated and public health professionals notified. Samples from the patient can then be collected and tested to confirm infection.

Laboratory tests used in diagnosis include:

Within 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
Virus isolation

Ebola discoverer: 'This is unprecedented'. CNN's Christiane Amanpour speaks with Dr. Peter Piot about an "out of control" Ebola epidemic in West Africa:


Diagnosis | Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever | CDC
'In 1976 I discovered Ebola - now I fear an unimaginable tragedy' | World news | The Observer
Image source:, public domain.

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