In some areas of Africa, infection has been connected to the handling of infected animals such as chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats, monkeys, forest antelope or porcupines, which have been found dead or ill in the rainforest.
Ebola can be caught from both humans and animals. It is not an airborne disease. Human-to-human transmission occurs through close contact with blood, secretions or other bodily fluids from an Ebola-infected person.
Direct contact with dead bodies, often at funerals, is one of the main ways the disease is transmitted. Funerals are a significant practice in the communities affected by this outbreak, and involve people washing and touching the body in order to express love for the deceased. In the last hours before death, the virus becomes extremely infectious and therefore the risk of transmission from the dead body is much higher. For these reasons, ensuring safe burials is a crucial part of managing an outbreak
Healthcare workers have frequently been infected while treating Ebola patients. This has occurred through close contact with patients while not using gloves, masks or protective goggles.