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CDC Ebola Surge – 2014

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Fact Sheet

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, September 16, 2014
Contact: Media Relations, Office of Communication
(404) 639-3286

The 2014 Ebola outbreak is the largest in history and the first Ebola outbreak in West Africa. This outbreak is actually the first Ebola epidemic the world has ever known — affecting multiple countries in and around West Africa. Although the current epidemic does not pose a significant risk to the U.S. public, CDC is taking precautions at home in addition to its activities abroad.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) brings a rare skill to the this daunting public health challenge—nearly 40 years of fighting Ebola outbreaks in Africa. CDC’s elite force of virus hunters on the front lines is supported by specialized public health teams in the field and at the CDC Atlanta headquarters; together, they offer unrelenting help to save lives and protect people. CDC works closely with Ministries of Health and other partners.

CDC’s unparalleled knowledge of Ebola—how it spreads, how it kills, how to find it, and how to stop it—supports the World Health Organization’s growing West Africa Ebola response. Since July, the United States has escalated its support, with multiple U.S. government agencies joining other domestic and international partners, but more is needed.

 “The sooner the world comes together to help West Africa, the safer we all will be. We know how to stop this outbreak. There is a window of opportunity to tamp this down—the challenge is to scale up the massive response needed to stop this outbreak.”  CDC Director, Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H, Sept. 2, 2014

CDC’s response to Ebola is the largest international outbreak response in CDC’s history.  Today, CDC has more than 100 disease detectives on the ground in West Africa, supported by hundreds of public health emergency response experts stateside. CDC teams are deployed from the CDC 24/7 Emergency Operations Center (EOC), activated at Level 1, its highest level, because of the significance of this outbreak. Each team is flexibly composed to match talents and expertise with critical needs in country:

  • CDC’s disease detectives find emerging cases to identify contacts and stop further transmission with isolation and improved infection control practices
  • CDC’s lab scientists diagnose Ebola cases and crack Ebola virus DNA codes to map outbreak connections
  • Outbreak control specialists find patterns of spread and population vulnerabilities so scarce resources can be deployed more efficiently
  • CDC’s Ebola outbreak veterans lead with expert guidance to national and international counterparts and new recruits in the Ebola fight
  • Health risk communication specialists fight rumors, stigmatization and unsafe practices in real time
  • Emergency operations teams bring incident management expertise to organize complex efforts.

Establishing Emergency Operations Centers (EOCs). CDC supports countries establish national and sub-national EOCs. All 3 West African countries at the center of the epidemic now have an Incident Manager, reporting to the President of the country, to lead efforts.

Strengthening surveillance and epidemiology.  CDC helps countries track the epidemic, including using real-time data to improve real-time response (e.g., identifying the epicenter and tracking the response).

Improving case finding and contact tracing. CDC strengthens efforts in West Africa to investigate cases and track their contacts. CDC helps interview people who may have been in contact with Ebola patients to see if they have symptoms and monitor them for 21 days. A single missed contact can start another chain of transmission.

Supporting laboratory networks. CDC is operating and supporting labs in the region to improve diagnosis. CDC is also testing samples from people with suspected Ebola from around the world, and, with Department of Defense support, helped 12 labs around the US gain the capacity to test for Ebola within hours.

Strengthening health care systems.  CDC leads infection control training for health care workers and safe patient triage throughout the health care system, communities, and households.

Improving health communication.  CDC health communicators and public health advisors in Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia are working with country embassies, UNICEF, WHO, MSF, other NGOs and Ministries of Health to improve health information.

Coordinating with partners and facilitating involvement by public health organizations around the world.  CDC is working closely with USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, to support the deployment of a Disaster Assistance Response Team.  CDC is also facilitating assistance by critical organizations such as the African Union, which will mobilize at least 150 staff (including doctors, nurses, epidemiologists and health educators) to support the response.  CDC also works closely with non-governmental organizations on many aspects of the response.

Advising travelers on how to protect their health and preventing sick travelers from getting on planes. CDC works with airlines, airports, and Ministries of Health to provide technical assistance for exit screening and travel restrictions in affected areas to prevent sick travelers from getting on planes. CDC also works with airlines to address crew and airline staff concerns while ensuring that humanitarian and public health organizations can still travel to affected countries.

Increasing U.S. preparedness for Ebola. CDC is educating U.S. health care providers to consider Ebola if symptoms are present within 3 weeks of a traveler returning from West Africa; issuing infection control guidance for hospitals to prevent further spread to health care workers and communities; strengthening laboratory networks and existing surveillance systems; and enhancing capabilities at U.S. points of entry.

Innovating. CDC has confronted Ebola on its home turf since 1976, and each time, CDC’s innovative experts have adapted their tactics to the reality on the ground. CDC is currently involved in ground-breaking activities, such as research on safe, more comfortable personal protective equipment; whole genome sequencing and analysis; monitoring for mutation patterns or changes in transmission; and supporting agencies conducting vaccine trials.

CDC Foundation. The CDC Foundation is assisting CDC by providing critical assistance and supplies through donations to the Foundation’s Global Disaster Response Fund, which enables CDC staff to respond quickly to changing circumstances and needs.

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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

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