Confronting infections across the globe
NCEZID’s experts know that deadly infections can be just a plane ride away. That’s why our experts work around the clock to protect people around the world from emerging and zoonotic infectious diseases like Ebola, yellow fever, and rabies.
The risk of Ebola spreading globally is currently low — CDC is working to keep it that way
NCEZID and partners are employing several strategies to control the ongoing outbreak:
- NCEZID is working with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and neighboring countries to keep travelers from spreading Ebola. NCEZID experts improved public health screenings at border crossings and airports in DRC and surrounding US authorities also continue to implement routine border health security measures at US ports of entry.
- Preventing Ebola transmission in healthcare facilities is one of the core strategies to stop the ongoing outbreak. NCEZID’s International Infection Control Program staff have supported trainings across eight geographic areas in DRC, contributing to infection prevention and control improvements in more than 2,300 healthcare facilities throughout the region.
- Innovative work by researchers in CDC’s high-containment laboratories demonstrated that two Ebola treatments—remdesivir and the antibodies in the ZMapp cocktail—effectively blocked the growth of the strain of Ebola causing the DRC outbreak.
- NCEZID used mathematical models to inform decision making of leaders at CDC and other US government agencies involved in the These models helped leaders to more accurately assess the effectiveness of response efforts and plan for additional needs, such as vaccine supply.
- NCEZID behavioral scientists have been working closely with Red Cross volunteers to gather information about people’s beliefs, observations, questions, and suggestions about combating Ebola. CDC and Red Cross have recently shifted their focus to building capacity of local Red Cross front-line volunteers— people who know how to effectively engage their communities so they can interpret and use the data they gather and become better advocates for change.
Better tests for yellow fever
Yellow fever is a reemerging and explosive public health threat. To help address this threat, NCEZID produced a new diagnostic kit that cuts testing time down from the standard 3 days to just 4 hours. The test, which was validated in 2019, provides laboratory staff in resource-poor countries with all the materials they need in just 1 box, allowing countries to mobilize a response quickly, potentially reducing the overall disease burden. NCEZID also developed a novel test that can rapidly distinguish between wild- type and vaccine yellow fever viruses. This test could greatly improve yellow fever diagnostics and allow for timely public health decisions without eroding public trust in the vaccine.
Each year, rabies kills nearly 60,000 people worldwide. In the United States, the threat of rabies is low, thanks to the routine vaccinations of pets. But many wild animals still carry the virus—and unvaccinated cats and dogs in other countries may still spread the disease, which is 100% preventable with the right medication.
- In January 2019, NCEZID published new guidance on importing dogs into the United States. CDC now requires only a vaccination certificate to import a dog from a country that’s high risk for canine rabies virus. This will reduce the requirements of importing dogs while continuing to protect the United States from rabies importation.
- NCEZID joined an international effort to control a rabies outbreak after reports that 3 people died in a Dominican Republic town near the Haitian border in 2018. Haitian authorities and CDC vaccinated nearly 25,000 dogs, including about 4,000 dogs in communities near the border.
- A CDC Vital Signs report this summer focused on the rabies threat still posed by US wildlife; rabies prevention strategies; and what the public, international travelers, and healthcare providers need to know about rabies.