For People Living and Working Abroad
If you are living or working in areas where outbreaks of viral hemorrhagic fevers (VHFs) are known to occur, you should be familiar with how VHFs spread. These viruses spread from an animal or insect host to people. Once circulating within a person, some VHFs can spread from person-to-person, often through contact with blood or body fluids.
The likelihood of contracting any VHF is considered extremely low, even for international travelers. However, exposure can occur when traveling to an affected area, especially if your work brings you into direct contact with the blood or body fluids of infected people or animals, or objects contaminated with infected body fluids. If you have been in an area where VHFs are present and you experience fever or other symptoms, you should be evaluated by a healthcare provider.
Before you leave
- Assemble a travel health kit containing basic first aid and medical supplies, including:
- Household disinfectant
- Alcohol-based hand rubs for hand hygiene
- Supply of surgical masks and disposable gloves (if your agency does not provide them and you may be in close contact with suspected VHF patients).
- Educate yourself and others who may be traveling with you about relevant VHFs. Visit specific disease sites at www.cdc.gov.
- Ensure your routine vaccines are up to date. Visit your healthcare provider at least 4 weeks before travel for additional travel vaccines, medications, and advice. For information on health recommendations for international travel, see CDC Travelers’ Health.
- Review your health insurance plan and consider additional insurance that covers medical evacuation in the event of illness. Information about medical evacuation services can be found at the U.S. Department of Stateexternal icon.
- Identify in-country healthcare resources in advance of your trip.
While in an area where VHFs have been reported
- Observe barrier techniques when in close contact with a person or animal suspected of being infected with a VHF. This includes wearing protective gowns, gloves, masks, and eye protection (e.g., eyeglasses) or face shields. Sterilization or proper disposal of needles and equipment, and proper disposal of patient excretions, are also important to prevent the spread of infection.
- Wash hands carefully and frequently with soap and water (or use alcohol-based hand rubs when soap and water are not available).
- Avoid contact with sick or dead animals, especially primates.
- Do not eat “bushmeat” (meat from wild animals, including primates or rodents).
If you think you have a VHF infection or symptoms compatible with a VHF
Visit a healthcare provider immediately if you or someone you know becomes ill with fever or develops symptoms such as chills, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, or rash while in an area where VHFs are present. The nearest U.S. Embassy or Consular Office can help you find a provider in the area if you are still abroad. Try and identify these resources in advance. Limit contact with others and avoid all other travel while you are sick.
After you return to the U.S.
Monitor your health for 21 days if you are returning from a VHF-affected area, even if you did not have any known exposures to infected people, animals, or contaminated objects. If you did have a possible exposure, notify a healthcare provider immediately and monitor your health for 21 days past the exposure.
If you become ill, consult a healthcare provider immediately and tell them about your recent travel and any potential exposures. Inform the provider of your symptoms prior to going to the office or emergency room so arrangements can be made to prevent transmission to others in the healthcare setting, if necessary.