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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) and Clinical Laboratory Safety in the United States. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Diagnosis of EVD and Other Laboratory Findings

It is difficult to diagnose a patient who is in the early stages of EVD, because the initial symptoms are nonspecific to Ebola and can be confused with other infectious diseases such as typhoid fever, malaria, and meningitis. The table below lists tests that are currently available to aid in the diagnosis of Ebola and the stages of the disease in which the tests are useful. The table is provided courtesy of the CDC. It is important to emphasize again that samples from patients are an extreme biohazard risk; laboratory testing on non-inactivated samples should be conducted under maximum biological containment conditions.

Timeline of InfectionDiagnostic Tests Available
Within a few days after signs/symptoms begins (generally 3-10 days)
  • Antigen-capture enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) testing
  • Real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR)
  • Virus isolation
Later in the disease course or after recovery
  • IgM and IgG antibodies (also used to monitor immune response)
Retrospectively in deceased patients
  • Immunhistochemistry (IHC) testing
  • PCR
  • Virus isolation
There are only a small number of patients that have been studied following infection with EVD. In these patients, additional laboratory findings can include, but are not limited to:
  • Decreased white blood cell (WBC) count
  • Elevated liver enzymes
  • Decreased platelet count
  • Increased prothrombin time (PT)
  • Increased activated partial thromboplastin time (aPTT)