Top 10 Ebola Response Planning Tips: Ebola Readiness Self-Assessment for State and Local Public Health Officials


A severe, often fatal disease, Ebola can be spread through direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with infected blood or body fluids or objects that have been contaminated with infected body fluids. Ebola symptoms usually begin after an incubation period ranging from 2 days to 21 days.

During Ebola outbreaks, the disease can spread quickly within families and healthcare settings. Rapid identification of cases is critical. Proper personal protective equipment (PPE) should be used, and proper cleaning and sterilization techniques should be followed to prevent spread. See CDC’s Ebola Outbreaks web page for more information about Ebola outbreaks.


This document identifies rapidly emerging CDC guidelines for Ebola applicable to public health preparedness national standards for state and local planning. It will:

  • guide planning and readiness for Ebola response at the state and local levels
  • assist state and local public health officials in assessing their jurisdictions’ level of readiness for a potential Ebola response (including individual patients and persons under investigation)
  • allow state and local public health systems to identify preparedness and operational gaps relative to Ebola
  • identify resources that will assist state and local jurisdictions in closing self-identified gaps

Public Health Preparedness Capabilities Necessary for Ebola Response

In March 2011, CDC published national capability standards to guide the development of state and local public health emergency preparedness efforts. This document, Public Health Preparedness Capabilities: National Standards for State and Local Planning, describes the 15 preparedness capabilities necessary for a robust state and local public health emergency response. In January 2012, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) published national capability standards to align preparedness and response efforts of healthcare systems, healthcare coalitions, and healthcare organizations. This document, Healthcare Preparedness Capabilities: National Guidance for Healthcare System Preparedness, describes eight preparedness capabilities that foster integration of the healthcare sector and public health response efforts. Ebola planning and response requires readiness in six key public health preparedness capabilities and one healthcare preparedness capability including:

  • Healthcare System Preparedness (Healthcare Preparedness Capability #1)
  • Emergency Public Information and Warning (Public Health Preparedness Capability #4)
  • Information Sharing (Public Health Preparedness/Healthcare Preparedness Capability #6)
  • Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions (Public Health Preparedness Capability #11)
  • Public Health Laboratory Testing (Public Health Preparedness Capability #12)
  • Public Health Surveillance and Epidemiological Investigation (Public Health Preparedness Capability #13)
  • Responder Safety and Health (Public Health Preparedness/Healthcare Preparedness Capability #14)

Ebola Readiness Self-Assessment for State and Local Public Health Officials

The following resources may help state and local jurisdictions address self-identified gaps in Ebola response planning. You are encouraged to review these online resources frequently as information may change over time.

Healthcare System Preparedness

  1. Considering the need for appropriate care and infection control of identified patients and persons under investigation, coordinate with healthcare facilities, healthcare coalitions, and emergency management to develop local and state emergency operations plans that address the concerns and unique needs of healthcare facilities for Ebola response. Assess the readiness for Ebola response within your jurisdiction’s hospitals, inpatient and outpatient healthcare facilities, clinician practices, and other clinical settings. Specifically, ensure that clinicians who may care for Ebola patients or persons under investigation are trained on the following guidance documents and consider the resource needs (such as PPE and other ancillary supplies) that would be needed to implement the guidance.

Emergency Public Information and Warning

  1. Prepare risk communication messages for internal staff and the public including general information on Ebola, risks to the public, risk of transmission, and protective measures. The following links provide CDC resources to assist in developing jurisdictional risk communication strategies and plans.

Information Sharing

  1. Ensure appropriate personnel are enrolled in information systems and receive CDC Health Alert Network (HAN) notifications. Maintain situational awareness within the jurisdiction by regularly visiting the CDC Ebola website for the latest Ebola information, guidance documents, current case counts, maps of affected areas, and other CDC resources. Disseminate information to state and local response partners, including hospitals, healthcare systems, primary care associations, provider organizations, local public health partners, and emergency management partners.

Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions (Travel-related Information and Public Health Interventions)

  1. Ensure state and local epidemiologic and medical staff have the latest recommendations for travelers and review CDC’s Interim Guidance for Monitoring and Movement of Persons with EVD Exposure. This interim guidance is intended to provide public health authorities and other partners with a framework for appropriate public health interventions and travel options for persons exposed to Ebola. State and local public health staff also should assure that travelers have access to current information on the CDC Travelers’ Health website, which includes travel notices and Ebola outbreak information.

Public Health Laboratory Testing

  1. Review updated laboratory guidance.
  1. Ensure that clinical laboratories review lab safety protocols and procedures, including proper use of PPE, and have appropriate and sufficient PPE quantities.

Public Health Surveillance and Epidemiological Investigation

  1. Share surveillance definitions across the public health jurisdiction.
  1. Ensure epidemiological tools are available to state and local epidemiologic staff and have a plan for implementation.

Responder Safety and Health

  1. Ensure that state and local stockpiles of PPE are adequate; ensure that responders and clinicians have been trained on appropriate use.
  1. Ensure clinicians and responders have reviewed CDC guidance on worker safety.

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