Washington, DC, United States (4E) – The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday issued a travel warning to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, due to risk of catching the deadly Ebola virus that already killed 729 people in the said countries.
The warning is Level 3, the most serious travel notice, as health workers struggle to contain the spread of Ebola infection that broke out in Guinea in February and Liberia in March.
“This is the biggest and most complex Ebola outbreak in history,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden. “Far too many lives have been lost already. “
The virus has no treatment and a fatality rate of almost 100 percent. Victims die from internal bleeding.
Two American health workers helping treat infected patients in Liberia were themselves infected and are now in grave condition. They are Dr. Kent Brantly, a Texas volunteer from the Samaritan’s Purse International Relief (SP), and Nancy Writebol, a volunteer from Serving in Mission (SIM).
Brantly and Writebol are undergoing treatment at an SP isolation center at ELWA Hospital, Liberia.
The SP, SIM and other U.S. humanitarian organizations are temporarily withdrawing their non-essential volunteers in the three West African countries as precaution against infection.
CDC also said it is sending 50 additional disease control experts to West Africa in the next 30 days to help bring the current outbreak under control and establish stronger systems to prevent, detect and stop Ebola and other outbreaks before they spread.
CDC is already assisting with active screening and education efforts on the ground in West Africa to prevent sick travelers from getting on planes. On the remote possibility that they do, CDC has protocols in place to protect against further spread of disease, including notification to CDC of ill passengers on a plane before arrival, investigation of ill travelers, and, if necessary, quarantine.
CDC also provided guidelines to airlines for managing ill passengers and crew and for disinfecting aircraft. However, CDC said it is not screening passengers traveling from the affected countries noting that Ebola is not contagious until symptoms appear and that transmission is through direct contact of bodily fluids of an infected, symptomatic person or exposure to objects like needles that have been contaminated with infected secretions.
Earlier this week, CDC issued a Health Alert Notice reminding U.S. healthcare workers of the importance of taking steps to prevent the spread of this virus, how to test and isolate suspected patients and how they can protect themselves from infection.