Ebola - What Has Happened So Far
"Here’s the bottom line. Patients can beat this disease. And we can beat this disease. But we have to
stay vigilant. We have to work together at every level — federal, state and local. And we have to keep
leading the global response, because the best way to stop this disease, the best way to keep Americans safe, is to stop it at its source — in West Africa."
– President Obama, October 25, 2014
Ebola continues to be a public health and national security priority, and President Obama and his administration continue to take aggressive measures to respond.
The United States continues to help lead the global response to stop the Ebola outbreak at its source in West Africa, while enhancing our preparedness here at home.
Get the latest CDC updates on the current outbreak, and continue reading to see what the U.S. is doing to end this epidemic.
Understand the Facts
It’s not transmitted through the air like the flu.
According to public health authorities, the only way a person can get Ebola is by coming into direct contact with the body fluids (urine, saliva, sweat, feces, vomit, breast milk and semen) of someone who is already showing symptoms.
If the person does not have symptoms, they are not contagious.
Visit the CDC website for more information on Ebola.
What’s Happened So Far
In March 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported an outbreak of Ebola virus disease in the West African country of Guinea. Additional cases have since been reported in the countries of Liberia and Sierra Leone, as well as Nigeria and Senegal. The cases reported in Nigeria and Senegal are considered to be contained, with no further spread in these countries, but new cases continue to be reported from Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. To date, there have been more than 9,200 reported Ebola cases in West Africa, with more than 4,500 deaths.
In September 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported the first laboratory-confirmed case of Ebola diagnosed in the United States, in a person who had traveled from Liberia to Dallas, Texas. The patient passed away on October 8, 2014. Two health care workers at Texas Presbyterian Hospital who provided care for the patient has also tested positive for Ebola, and have since been isolated and are receiving care.
What We’re Doing at Home
Clinicians in the United States have been key to our safety here at home by:
Identifying patients with both a history of travel from West Africa or contact with someone with a confirmed case of Ebola and symptoms indicating they might have Ebola
Immediately isolating these patients
Consulting their local or state health departments
Getting these patients tested as needed
The CDC issued more thorough guidance and step-by-step instructions on how to use personal protective equipment safely:
All healthcare workers undergo rigorous training and are practiced and competent with personal protective equipment, including putting it on and taking it off in a systematic manner
There can be no skin exposure when personal protective equipment is worn
All workers are supervised by a trained monitor who watches each worker taking personal protective equipment on and off
Read more about the guidance on personal protective equipment here.
We have also been responding to new information to adapt and enhance our response. The following five U.S. airports — which will now receive nearly all travelers coming to the United States from countries affected by the Ebola outbreak — are also implementing new Ebola screening measures to help stop the spread of the disease:
John F. Kennedy International Airport - New York, NY
Washington Dulles International Airport - Washington, D.C.
Newark Liberty International Airport - Newark, NJ
Chicago O'Hare International Airport - Chicago, IL
Jackson Atlanta International Airport - Atlanta, GA
Read here for more details on the screening measures at these airports.
What We’re Doing Abroad
The U.S. strategy to combat the Ebola outbreak abroad consists of four key goals:
Controlling the epidemic at its source in West Africa
Minimizing the secondary impacts of the epidemic that aren't directly caused by the disease
Leading a coordinated international response
Building a robust global health security infrastructure so we're prepared over the long run to confront epidemics such as the Ebola epidemic
CDC, USAID, and other U.S. officials have been deployed to the West Africa region to assist with response efforts — including surveillance, contact tracing, data management, laboratory testing, and health education — and CDC experts have been deployed to non-affected border countries, including Cote d'Ivoire, to conduct assessments of Ebola preparedness in those countries. This deployment constituted CDC’s largest overseas mission to date.
The President announced in September a scaled-up response that calls upon the unique capabilities of the U.S. military to support the civilian-led response. The United States already has committed more than $350 million toward fighting the epidemic in West Africa, including more than $111 million in humanitarian aid, and the Department of Defense (DoD) is prepared to devote more than $1 billion to the whole-of-government Ebola response effort. As a further indication of our prioritization of this response, the United States convened a special U.N. Security Council session on the epidemic, and President Obama called the world to action during a subsequent U.N. session called by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. These U.S. actions have galvanized millions of dollars in international funding and in-kind support.
How You Can Help
Looking for ways to help fight the global spread of Ebola? Regular Americans across the country are helping in a variety of ways right now. Here are a couple options available to you.
Sign Up to be a Medical Volunteer
If you're a qualified medical professional and want to volunteer to work in West Africa, the Center for International Disaster Information (CIDI) can connect you with reputable organizations who are active in the Ebola response. Click here to learn more.
The CDC is also developing an introductory safety training course for licensed clinicians who want to work in an Ebola Treatment Unit in Africa. Learn more here.
Click here to meet some of the CDC experts who have traveled to West Africa to help stop the spread of the disease.
Share Your Idea to Help Combat The Global Spread of Ebola
USAID is calling on the global community to come up with practical, cost-effective innovations that can help health care workers on the front lines give better care and stop Ebola's spread. Learn more and take action now.
Learn About Other Ways to Contribute
For those who wish to donate money or contribute in other ways, USAID is providing information about non-governmental organizations responding to Ebola in West Africa. Get more information from the USAID website here.
A Coordinated Effort
CDC is assisting with exit screening and communication efforts in West Africa to prevent sick travelers from getting on planes, and is working with airlines to address crew and airline staff concerns while ensuring the ability of humanitarian and public health organizations to transport assistance into the affected countries.
In addition to implementing new Ebola screening measures in the five U.S. airports that receive more than 94 percent of travelers coming to the United States from countries affected by the Ebola outbreak, CDC is also working closely with Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and other partners at ports of entry (primarily international airports) to use routine processes to identify travelers who show signs of infectious disease. If a sick traveler is identified during or after a flight, CDC will conduct an investigation of exposed travelers and work with the airline, federal partners, and state and local health departments to notify them and take any necessary public health action.
In the United States, CDC is working to prepare U.S. health care facilities for managing patients that are suspected to have Ebola. U.S. health care workers can find updated infection control guidance on the Information for Health Care Workers page. CDC communicates with health care workers on an ongoing basis through Health Alert Network (HAN), Clinician Outreach and Communication Activity (COCA), and a variety of existing tools and mechanisms.
See more details on the precautions CDC and partners are taking to prevent the spread of Ebola in the United States.
The Obama Administration's Ebola Response
Get the facts and latest updates on the Administration's response to Ebola.