Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) Outbreak in West Africa

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The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported on a significant outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) that has affected a number of countries in West Africa. Cases of EVD associated with this outbreak first appeared in December 2013; WHO issued an international alert in March 2014. This escalated into the largest ever outbreak of the disease. On August 8 2014, WHO declared the Ebola outbreak in West Africa to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. To date, no confirmed, or suspected, cases of Ebola have been identified in Ireland.

Currently the only country affected is Guinea. On May 9th 2015 WHO declared Liberia to be Ebola-free and on November 7th the WHO also declared that Ebola virus transmission in Sierra Leone had ended.  WHO provides regular updates on this outbreak. 

On June 29th, the Ministry of Health in Liberia reported a cluster of EVD in the Nedowein Region (about 60 miles east of the capital Monrovia). Six confirmed cases of EVD were identified during this acute incident, but no new cases have been reported recently and all contacts have now completed their 21-day follow-up period. 

Previously, the World Health Organization announced on 20/10/2014 that Nigeria was declared free of Ebola virus transmission. And on 18/1/2015, WHO further announced the end of the outbreak of Ebola virus disease in Mali.

On October 5th 2015, following the Seventh Meeting of the IHR Emergency Committee regarding the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the WHO's Director General Dr Margaret Chan concluded that "the 2014-2015 Ebola outbreak in these West African countries continues to constitute a Public Health Emergency of International Concern".   

Information on Ebola Virus Disease:

Latest updates on the situation in Africa are available from:

United Nations Response (UNMEER)

In response to the EVD epidemic, the United Nations has established the emergency UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER), whose strategic priorities are to stop the spread of the disease, treat infected patients, ensure essential services, preserve stability and prevent the spread to countries currently unaffected by EVD. WHO will continue to be responsible for overall health strategy and advice within the Mission. Daily situational reports are available on the UNMEER website.

MAPS - has CDC has a detailed map of the affected areas as does Public Health England

WHO considers that this outbreak has escalated to such an extent that it is beyond the national capability of any affected country to control the situation on its own. Accordingly, there is a significant amount of international support being provided on the ground.

WHO and partners continue to support the implementation of preventive and control measures in affected countries. WHO has convened an expert panel to assess the role of potential experimental therapies.

Cases from the affected countries are continuing to appear. Accordingly, a high index of suspicion MUST be maintained when assessing individuals presenting with fever and a history of travel, to, or through, the affected countries.

C‌ases and Fatalities‌

‌WHO provide regular Situational Reports on the outbreak including numbers of cases and fatalities and their distribution.  

Travel to Affected Areas

In relation to Ebola virus disease, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is advising against all non-essential travel to Guinea

If your travel to an affected area is absolutely necessary, the following information gives some advice for travellers going to, or departing from affected areas. Should your travel be necessary, HPSC has extensive information on advice for travellers arriving in, or departing from areas affected by this outbreak.

Advice to people arriving in Guinea

The risk that you will be exposed to the Ebola virus is extremely low. The following preventive measures should eliminate the risk of getting infected:

  • avoid direct contact with blood or bodily fluids of a patient or human remains and with objects possibly contaminated;
  • avoid close contact with wild animals and consumption of ‘bushmeat’ (the meat of wild animals as food);
  • avoid having unprotected sexual intercourse;
  • those who are providing medical care or are involved in the evaluation of an outbreak should wear protective clothing, including masks, gloves, gowns, eye protection and practice proper infection prevention and control measures.

Advice for travellers returning from Guinea

The risk that you have been exposed to the Ebola virus is extremely low. However:

If you develop fever, unexplained fatigue, diarrhoea or any other severe symptoms in the few weeks (21 days) following a departure from an affected area, you should:

  • Seek urgent medical attention ensuring to mention your travel history, since it may result from an infection like malaria that requires immediate investigation and treatment.

If you have been directly exposed to any bodily fluids from a dead or living infected person or animal, including unprotected sexual contact with patients that have recovered, you should:

  • Seek urgent medical attention mentioning your travel history.
  • Contact the medical care facility by phone before your visit, in order to enable medical personnel to use appropriate protection at the time of admission.

The United Nations and WHO are keeping the situation regarding Ebola under constant review.

Source: UNMEER

 

EVD Training for Health Professionals

There is now a section with extensive Ebola Virus Disease training materials for health professionals.

 

Further information on on Ebola Virus Disease is available from: