CDC’s response to the 2014–2016 Ebola epidemic — West Africa and United States
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CDC’s response to the 2014–2016 Ebola epidemic — West Africa and United States

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  • Journal Article:
    MMWR. Morbidity and mortality weekly report. Supplement
  • Corporate Authors:
  • Description:
    This MMWR supplement presents reports that chronicle major aspects of CDC’s unprecedented response to the Ebola epidemic. Written by CDC staff who played key roles, these reports summarize the agency’s work, primarily during the first year and a half of the epidemic. From the start, CDC focused on providing proven public health measures to assist affected countries to defeat Ebola. Some of these key activities included:

    • Supporting the incident management systems of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone to permit effective action to stop Ebola.

    Establishing CDC teams in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, which have transitioned into permanent CDC country offices. Improving case detection and contact tracing to stop Ebola transmission.

    Strengthening surveillance and response capacities in surrounding countries to reduce the risk for further spread. Improving infection control in Ebola treatment units and general health care facilities to stop spread of Ebola. This effort included training tens of thousands of health care workers in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone to safely care for Ebola patients and working to ensure the provision and correct use of personal protective equipment. Promoting the use of safe and dignified burial services to stop spread of Ebola. Conducting detailed epidemiologic analyses of Ebola trends and transmission patterns in communities and health care facilities to target and optimize epidemic control.

    • Supporting laboratory needs at CDC’s Viral Special Pathogens Branch (Division of High-Consequence Pathogens and Pathology, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases) in Atlanta and transferring CDC laboratory expertise to the field (e.g., establishing an Ebola laboratory in Bo, Sierra Leone). Reducing the likelihood of spread of Ebola through travel, including working with international partners and federal and state health officials to establish exit and entry risk assessment and management procedures, as well as helping establish protocols to track travelers arriving in the United States from affected countries until 21 days after their last potential exposure.

    • Disseminating risk communication materials designed to help change behavior, decrease rates of transmission, and confront stigma, both in West Africa and the United States. Assisting state health departments in responding to domestic Ebola concerns, including the response in Dallas after the first U.S. case of Ebola imported in a traveler from Liberia.

    • Establishing trained and ready hospitals in the United States capable of safely assessing, managing, and caring for possible Ebola patients.

    • Modeling, in real time, predictions for the course of the epidemic, which helped galvanize international support and enabled CDC to act on and align global action to reach goals for control to quickly shift the course of the epidemic.

    • Providing logistic support for the most ambitious CDC deployment in history.

    • Fostering hope for a long-term solution for Ebola, including rollout of Sierra Leone Trial to Introduce a Vaccine against Ebola (STRIVE).


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