Last updated Summer 2015
For more than a year, Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone have been experiencing the largest and most complex outbreak of Ebola in history. Cases continue to be reported in Guinea and Sierra Leone. While the outbreak continues in Sierra Leone and Guinea, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the end of the Ebola outbreak in Liberia on May 9, 2015, meaning that 42 days (two incubation periods) had passed since the last Ebola patient was buried. The health system in Liberia continues to monitor for new cases and to take precautions to prevent transmission in the country. CDC is also closely monitoring the situation and will update information and advice for travelers as needed.
CDC is no longer recommending that US residents avoid nonessential travel to Liberia. However, CDC recommends that US residents practice enhanced precautions when traveling to Liberia. Although the risk to travelers is extremely low, there is the possibility of reintroduction of Ebola into the country. Travelers should follow CDC’s advice for avoiding contact with blood and body fluids. Travelers should also be aware that getting medical care in Liberia may be difficult because the health infrastructure has been severely strained by the Ebola outbreak. Certain travelers, such as senior citizens, people with underlying illnesses, and people with weakened immune systems, should consider postponing travel. Please consult the CDC website www.cdc.gov/ebola for situation updates and advice for travelers to one of these countries.
The Berkeley campus has a long-standing tradition of public service, research, teaching and education abroad, and members of our campus community are currently contributing to efforts overseas to halt the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. There are some members of our campus community who are more personally affected by this outbreak, by virtue of having friends, family, or their former home in Ebola-affected countries.
For anyone who must travel to these ebola-affected countries, you must adhere to the following precautions:
1) Notify your Department and University Health Services (UHS) if you intend to travel to Liberia, Guinea, or Sierra Leone for any reason over the winter holiday break. Contact UHS at (510) 642-1814 and request to speak to a travel advisor for Ebola-affected countries. The UHS travel advisor will review your pre-trip preparations, precautions to take during travel, and expected return to campus procedures.
2) Register your travel with UC’s travel insurance plan. All travel to Liberia, Guinea, or Sierra Leone must be registered with the University. Trip registration provides the traveler with important location-specific travel alerts and assistance from WorldCue/iJet regarding medical care, health advisories, extreme weather or storms, natural disasters, or civil unrest. Registering your trip also allows the University and its travel insurer to assist you more quickly in the event of an emergency. Register your trip here.
3) Plan for a 21-Day Active Monitoring period and a potential supervised self-quarantine upon your return to the Bay Area. The CDC, in collaboration with state and local public health authorities, is now screening all travelers returning from these countries, and is imposing 21-day Active Monitoring by public health officials for all travelers. Upon your return to campus, plan for a 21-day monitoring period including a twice-daily temperature and symptom check supervised by the local Public Health department. In healthcare workers or others at higher risk, extra restrictions may be imposed.
ADDITIONAL ADVICE FOR ALL TRAVELERS TO THESE COUNTRIES
CDC has created guidance for monitoring people exposed to Ebola virus and for evaluating their travel, including the application of movement restrictions when indicated. UC has applied these guidelines in creating a protocol covering pre-travel preparation, guidance while in Ebola-risk areas and re-entry protocol. See UC Re-Entry Protocol (pdf) and Recommendations for Humanitarian Aid Workers (pdf).
Other important pre-trip planning resources include:
- UC Berkeley International Travel Clinic
- UC Berkeley EH&S Field Safety Guidance
- WorldCue/iJet Pre-Trip Planning Tool
- U.S. State Department
- Centers for Disease Control
- CDC Ebola page
Campus leaders and health officials have been coordinating preparedness efforts for many months. Senior campus administrators and University Health Services (UHS), in collaboration with experts from the School of Public Health, the Office of Environment, Health & Safety as well as local and state public health officials, have taken measures to prepare for a potential case locally, including:
- Continual monitoring of CDC advisories on the Ebola outbreak
- Ongoing coordination with other campus groups and UC Office of the President
- Advising travelers traveling to and from areas of ongoing transmission
- Monitoring and evaluating returning travelers who may be at risk
- Assessing and reinforcing infection control measures and equipment
- Proactive planning with local and state public health officials and campus partners on how to manage a potential exposures to, or a suspect case of, the Ebola virus
SCREENING PROCEDURES + CLINICAL STAFF TRAINING AT TANG
UHS implemented additional screening procedures to limit possible exposure in our health facility: during the online appointment scheduling process and also when each patient presents for their appointment or Urgent Care evaluation. UHS has provided multiple staff trainings according to CDC protocols on the use of personal protected equipment and protocols for managing any patient who presents with factors that might indicate possible exposure to Ebola. UHS continues to work with local and state public health authorities to prepare for the possibility of an Ebola-exposed individual presenting for evaluation.
Ebola Virus Disease was first identified in 1976, and outbreaks have occurred in Africa sporadically since that time. Ebola is caused by infection with a virus of the family Filoviridae, genus Ebolavirus. According to the CDC, The natural reservoir host of Ebola virus remains unknown. However, researchers believe that the virus is animal-borne and that bats are the most likely reservoir. Four of the five virus strains occur in an animal host native to Africa.
The countries most impacted by this outbreak are Guinea and Sierra Leone. CDC currently does not recommend that travelers avoid visiting other African countries.
In Africa, individuals become infected through close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals such as chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats, monkeys, forest antelope and porcupines found ill or dead or in the rainforest. Ebola then spreads from person-to-person by direct contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people, and through contact with contaminated objects such as bedding or needles. Ebola is not spread via the air or water. The disease is not communicable unless the exposed person is symptomatic.
As the situation evolves, we will post updates on this page. For additional timely updates we encourage you to visit the CDC website.