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Update: Outbreak of Ebola Viral Hemorrhagic Fever -- Zaire, 1995

On May 6, 1995, CDC was notified by health authorities and the U.S. Embassy in Zaire of an outbreak of viral hemorrhagic fever in the Kikwit area of Bandundu region, Zaire (1). On May 10, testing of blood specimens from ill patients confirmed that the outbreak was caused by Ebola virus. Through May 24, the investigation of this outbreak by public health authorities has identified a total of 144 persons with viral hemorrhagic fever, including 108 (75%) deaths, in the city of Kikwit and the surrounding area. The median age of ill persons was 37 years (range: 9 months-71 years); 70 were male, 68 were female, and six were of unknown sex. Reported by: M Musong, MD, Minister of Health, Kinshasa; T Muyembe, MD, Univ of Kinshasa; K Mungala, MD, Kikwit General Hospital. Technical Scientific International Coordinating Committee, Kikwit, Zaire. Medecins Sans Frontieres, Belgium. Div of Viral and Rickettsial Diseases, and Div of Quarantine, National Center for Infectious Diseases; International Health Program Office, CDC.

Editorial Note

Editorial Note: From May 17 (when this outbreak was first reported in MMWR {1}) though May 24, the investigation identified an additional 51 cases of suspected Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF) in Zaire. The incubation period for EHF ranges from 2 days to 21 days (2); because the outbreak investigation and control measures were initiated on May 10, new cases may represent persons who were exposed to the virus before the institution of the control measures. The ongoing investigation is assessing the effectiveness of these control measures in interrupting transmission, which is believed to result principally from direct contact with ill persons or their blood or body fluids.

Because of the length of the incubation period for EHF, the potential exists for persons with incubating illness to travel from the outbreak-affected area to the United States. To minimize the potential for spread of Ebola virus to the United States, precautionary measures have been instituted, under the provisions of the Foreign Quarantine Regulations, * including 1) issuance of a travel advisory by the U.S. Department of State and an advisory memorandum by CDC distributed to state and local health departments, other federal government agencies, airlines, travel agents, and travel clinics; 2) with the assistance of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, distribution of the routine Health Alert Notice to all passengers arriving in the United States from Europe and Africa; and 3) distribution of an Ebola Virus Hemorrhagic Fever Alert Notice (EVHFN) to any travelers who have recently been in Zaire -- EVHFN instructs these travelers to contact a health-care provider if they develop a febrile illness during the 3 weeks after they arrive in the United States.

CDC maintains a hotline providing updates on the outbreak of EHF in Zaire (telephone {800} 900-0681).


  1. CDC. Outbreak of Ebola viral hemorrhagic fever -- Zaire, 1995. MMWR 1995;44:381-2.

  2. CDC. Management of patients with suspected viral hemorrhagic fever. MMWR 1988;37(no. S-3).

    • 42 CFR, Part 71.

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