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Information for Health Care Workers, Laboratory Workers, and Researchers Traveling to the United States from Countries with Former Widespread Transmission of Ebola
Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone are no longer experiencing widespread transmission; however, the virus can persist in certain body fluids of people who have recovered from Ebola including in semen, ocular fluid, breast milk, and cerebrospinal fluid. Therefore, there is an ongoing low risk of exposure to Ebola in these countries as small numbers of cases may continue to occur. Travelers, particularly those who may have occupational exposure to Ebola, should enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive important information from the embassy about health and safety conditions and allow the embassy to contact them in case of emergency.
CDC does not recommend active monitoring (see Interim U.S. Guidance for Monitoring and Movement of Persons with Potential Ebola Virus Exposure for definitions) of travelers arriving in the United States from countries with former widespread transmission and current, established control measures. These travelers are, however, encouraged to watch their health for 21 days (self-observe) after leaving West Africa and to call their health department or seek health care if symptoms develop. In addition, CDC recommends the following for certain groups who may have occupational exposures to Ebola and intend to travel to the United States:
Direct active monitoring until 21 days after the last potential exposure for health care workers who cared for patients with Ebola while the patients were infectious.
Active monitoring until 21 days after the last potential exposure for:
- Anyone who entered the patient care area (“hot zone”) of an Ebola treatment unit or other health care facility where patients with Ebola were treated.
- Laboratory workers who handled specimens from patients with Ebola before the specimens were inactivated.
CDC requests notification by the employing organization or public health authority before any people with these exposures travel to the United States. Notifications to CDC may be made to the CDC office in the country where the traveler is located via the US Embassy in country, or by contacting the CDC Emergency Operations Center at 770-488-7100 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The health department of the destination state should also be notified and will be responsible for determining how active or direct active monitoring will be conducted.
CDC also recommends self-observation under the oversight of the employing organization until 21 days after the last potential exposure for any researchers engaged in environmental studies of Ebola (for example, surveillance of animal reservoirs) or testing survivors of Ebola, including those collecting specimens or performing laboratory analysis. The occupational health programs (if available) at these organizations should be aware the recommended self-observation period, and those under self-observation should report any signs or symptoms that develop before the end of the self-observation period. CDC recommends these actions because researchers engaged in these studies may not be aware if the specimens collected or processed contain Ebola virus or other infectious pathogens; these recommendations are consistent with standard occupational health procedures for such studies.
The above recommendations assume that appropriate infection control precautions and personal protective equipment (PPE) were used. Anyone with a potential unprotected exposure to Ebola, such as a breach of PPE, should not travel by commercial or public transport and may be subject to travel restrictions for 21 days after the exposure.
- Page created: July 31, 2014
- Page last updated: December 29, 2015
- Page last reviewed: December 29, 2015
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