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Washington, D.C., 30 September 2014 (PAHO/WHO) - Today the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported the first case of Ebola virus disease (EVD) diagnosed and reported in the United States. This is also the first case diagnosed and reported in the Region of the Americas. 

The Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) has been working with its Member States to prepare for an eventual introduction of EVD and will continue to do so.

The case announced today had traveled to the United States from Liberia but had no symptoms when leaving Africa nor when entering the United States on 20 September, according to the CDC. The patient fell ill on 24 September, sought hospital care on 26 September, and is currently in isolation in a hospital in Dallas, Texas. Contact tracing is under way.

PAHO/WHO reminds all its member countries of the need to remain vigilant and prepared for the potential introduction of Ebola. The following recommendations of the WHO International Health Regulations (IHR) Emergency Committee continue to apply to the countries of the Americas:

  • There should be no general ban on international travel or trade; although the restrictions outlined in these recommendations regarding the travel of EVD cases and contacts should be implemented.
  • WHO Member States should provide travelers to Ebola-affected and at-risk areas with relevant information on risks, measures to minimize those risks, and advice for managing a potential exposure.
  • States should be prepared to detect, investigate, and manage Ebola cases; this should include assured access to a qualified diagnostic laboratory for EVD and, where appropriate, the capacity to manage travelers originating from known Ebola-infected areas who arrive at international airports or major land crossing points with unexplained febrile illness.
  • The general public should be provided with accurate and relevant information on the Ebola outbreak and measures to reduce the risk of exposure.
  • States should be prepared to facilitate the evacuation and repatriation of nationals (e.g. health workers) who have been exposed to Ebola.

PAHO/WHO also reminds its member countries that, if and when a case is detected, an effective response, to prevent the establishment of local transmission, includes:

  • Rigorous infection control measures
  • Isolation of cases
  • Contact tracing
  • Access to and correct use of personal protective equipment by health workers
  • Community education with clear, transparent, up-to-date information
  • Risk communication
  • Coordinated implementation of public health measures in a manner proportional to the risks.

PAHO/WHO actions

PAHO/WHO has proactively been interacting with its Member States to support and orient their preparedness efforts to respond to the potential introduction of an EVD case and to prevent the establishment of local transmission. A document defining the strategic approach to preparedness and response was developed and disseminated to Member States through multiple channels.

To guide PAHO's actions in this area, PAHO Director Carissa F. Etienne created a special task force and an operational working group that will advise and support the implementation of the recommendations of the IHR Emergency Committee and coordinate the response to the potential introduction of EVD in the Americas. 

PAHO/WHO has also been supporting the response in West African countries affected by the EVD outbreak with the deployment of staff. The Organization is also assisting its Member States with deployments of their nationals and facilitating cooperation among countries.

Daily updates on Ebola in English and Spanish are available at www.paho.org/eboladisease and www.paho.org/enfermedadebola.

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