Nutritional Care for Patients With Ebola Virus Disease

Mija Ververs; Magi Gabra


Emerging Infectious Diseases. 2020;26(1):20-25. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


During the Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak of 2014–2016 in West Africa, practitioners faced challenges providing nutritional care for patients in Ebola treatment units (ETUs). The current EVD outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo demonstrates the need to understand lessons learned from previous outbreaks and to update nutritional guidelines. We conducted a literature review to identify articles that included nutrition as an integral part of supportive care. We found little information on the specific nutritional care or practical challenges within an ETU. This review showed that nutritional care for EVD patients is poorly described, and therefore the optimal composition and implementation of nutritional care remain unknown. We recommend that researchers and practitioners share specific and practical details of their experiences in providing nutritional support within ETUs to expand the knowledge base and ultimately improve the nutritional care for an increasingly prevalent patient population.


In 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), and the World Food Programme (WFP) produced interim guidelines with recommendations for providing nutritional support to patients in Ebola treatment units (ETUs).[1] These guidelines were based on existing WHO evidence-based guidance adapted to the Ebola crisis, in addition to a rapid literature review on Ebola virus disease (EVD) and nutritional management of hemorrhagic fevers. The document aimed to address key clinical problems for EVD patients, their nutritional needs, and optimal nutritional care, including the practical aspects of providing nutritional support within treatment centers.

In the context of the current Ebola virus outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), we summarize existing practices and research findings on nutritional care for EVD patients in ETUs and compare them, when relevant, with 2014 WHO/UNICEF/WFP guidelines. More specifically, we aim to identify gaps to guide future practices and research, ultimately leading to improved nutritional guidelines.