Ebola Virus Disease is a serious infectious disease spread between humans from person to person. Infection is transmitted by direct or indirect contact with the blood, body fluids or secretions (stool, urine, saliva, semen) of infected people, but only when they show symptoms. Ebola cannot be transmitted by air. The disease usually has a high mortality rate but in the current Ebola outbreak the rate ranges between 55% and 60%.
Ebola first appeared in 1976 in a village near the Ebola River in the Democratic Republic of Congo (former Zaire). Since its detection, several Ebola outbreaks have occurred in different parts of Africa.
Given the possibility that other imported cases will be introduced into the Americas, and to prevent further spread of the virus, PAHO is working with countries in the region to strengthen their preparedness to detect and quickly respond to a possible imported case of Ebola. Thus far, there have been two imported cases and two cases of local transmission of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in the United States. There have been no cases of EVD in any other country in the Americas.
PAHO Director Carissa F. Etienne created a task force and an operational working group. This group advises and supports the implementation of the International Emergency Committee of the International Health Regulations (IHR) recommendations, and coordinates the response to the possible introduction of Ebola virus disease in the Americas.
Experts from the Organization conducted missions to countries in the region to assist in this preparation.
PAHO/WHO also supports the response in West African countries affected by the outbreak of this disease with the deployment of officers. The organization also assists its Member States in their national deployments of professionals and facilitates cooperation among countries.