Starting in March 2014, West Africa experienced the largest outbreak of Ebola in history with multiple countries around the world affected. However, because of ongoing surveillance and strengthened response capacities, these affected countries now have the experience and tools to rapidly identify any additional cases and to limit transmission.
- On March 29, 2016, WHO terminated the Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) for the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
- On March 21, 2016, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of Homeland Security are no longer carrying out enhanced U.S visa and port-of-entry screening related to Ebola for any travelers.
- Travelers from Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone are still encouraged to watch their health for 21 days after leaving one of these countries and if symptoms consistent with Ebola virus disease (EVD) develop during this time frame, that they should seek medical attention and inform their healthcare provider about their travel history. The healthcare provider should notify the local health department, but should not delay evaluation and treatment.
- CDC, CDPH, and Alameda County Public Health Department recommends that healthcare providers and their facilities:
- No longer need to screen patients specifically for Ebola virus disease and should cease inquiring about recent travel focused solely on Ebola affected countries.
- Should continue to obtain a travel history as part of routine patient evaluation, especially for patients with fever, rash, and/or acute respiratory symptoms, so that infection control precautions and patient placement can begin promptly when appropriate.
- Should consider posting visual alerts (signs, posters) at the entrance and in strategic places (waiting areas, elevators, cafeterias) to provide patients with clear instructions, in appropriate languages, about infection control precautions and the importance of notifying healthcare providers of their travel history.
- Should conduct a thorough travel and health history (health status, travel, and exposure) for all acutely ill patients, whose clinical presentation suggests a communicable disease, including vaccination history and prophylaxis compliance for infectious diseases such as malaria, when relevant. Following the travel and health history, if it is clear that there has been no exposure to Ebola virus, EVD can be eliminated from the differential diagnosis.
- Should maintain situational awareness of travel-related infectious diseases and continue to report suspect cases of any potential high risk infectious disease to Alameda County Public Health Department Acute Communicable Disease at 510-267-3250.
Although the spread of Ebola in West Africa has been greatly reduced since the 2014 outbreak, new clusters of EVD cases in the West African countries continue to occur as expected and all clusters to date have been detected and responded to rapidly. However, the risk to residents across the US and in Alameda County continues to be very low. There have been four cases of Ebola diagnosed in the US; one who arrived in Texas from Liberia, two health workers who cared for this patient and one unrelated medical aid worker who returned from Guinea to New York. To date, there has been no additional spread of Ebola in the United States.
Alameda County Public Health Department (ACPHD) Response
Alameda County Public Health Department is continuing to monitor the situation with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the CDC; coordinating with Oakland Airport and the Port of Oakland to ensure appropriate public health measures are taken for potential Ebola cases; collaborating with Alameda County EMS Agency, regional bay area health departments, local hospitals, healthcare providers, and ambulance providers to discuss a coordinated response to any suspected Ebola patient; and providing information to and coordinating with health care providers, emergency responders, law enforcement, schools, and the public regarding Ebola risk and preparedness in Alameda County.