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Travel health information for people travelling abroad from the UK

Ebola Virus Disease in West Africa (Update)

19 Feb 2015

A total of 128 new confirmed cases of Ebola virus disease (EVD) were reported in the week ending 15 February 2015. Guinea (52 cases), down from the previous week and the first week-to-week decline since January 25. Transmission remains widespread in Sierra Leone (74 cases), the capital, Freetown is worst affected (45 cases). Liberia reported 2 new confirmed cases in the 4 days to 12 February.

Engaging effectively with communities has controlled the outbreak in many parts of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, however, this remains a challenge in other areas. The three countries reported an increase in security incidents compared with the previous week.

Unsafe burials were reported in Guinea (39) and Sierra Leone (45) in the week ending 15 February, and more than 40 new cases were identified postmortem when testing was carried out following deaths in the community, outwith treatment facilities.

As of 18 February 2015, more than 23 000 confirmed, probable and suspected cases of EVD and more than 9000 deaths have been reported to WHO by the Ministries of Health for Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. The distribution of the cases in West Africa is listed below, case numbers include confirmed, probable and suspected:

  • Guinea - 3108 cases and 2057 deaths, cases in last 21 days 156.
  • Liberia - 9007 cases and 3686 deaths, cases in last 21 days 11.
  • Sierra Leone - 11 103 cases and 3408 deaths, cases in last 21 days 230.

Advice for Travellers

The risk of travellers becoming infected or developing Ebola haemorrhagic fever is extremely low, unless there has been direct contact with blood or bodily fluids of dead or living infected persons or animals. Healthcare workers are at particular risk, although practising appropriate infection control should effectively prevent transmission of disease in this setting.

Travellers returning from tropical countries should always seek rapid medical attention if they develop flu-like symptoms (such as fever, headache, diarrhoea or general malaise) within three weeks after return, and be reminded to mention to their health care provider that they have recently travelled.