Ebola (Ebola Virus Disease)

Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) is a rare and often deadly illness caused by the Ebola virus. The Ebola virus can spread from person to person through direct contact with blood or body fluids (urine, feces, saliva, sweat, vomit, breast milk, and semen) of a person who is sick with or has died from EVD. This can happen when a person touches the infected body fluids or objects that have come into contact with those body fluids, such as medical equipment, needles and syringes. The virus enters the body through broken skin or through the eyes, nose or mouth.

There is currently one ongoing EVD outbreak in Guinea. The EVD outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) was declared over on May 3, 2021. There are no cases of EVD in the United States.

  • On February 7, 2021, the Ministry of Health of the DRC reported an EVD outbreak in the eastern part of the DRC (North Kivu). This was the 12th outbreak in the DRC since the virus was discovered in 1976 in the DRC. The largest EVD outbreak in DRC’s history occurred in the same region during 2018–2020. This outbreak was declared over on June 25, 2020. Genomic sequencing of samples suggests that cases in the 2021 outbreak are linked to cases in the area during the 2018–2020 outbreak. This was likely caused by a persistent infection in a survivor that led to either a relapse or sexual transmission of the virus. DRC reached 42 days without any new EVD cases after the last person with EVD recovered. On May 3, 2021, DRC’s outbreak was declared over. . 
  • On February 14, 2021, health authorities in Guinea declared an outbreak of EVD in the rural community of Gouéké, N’Zérékoré Prefecture, located in the southern part of Guinea. This outbreak is not related to the current outbreak in the DRC. Genomic sequencing of samples gives strong evidence that cases in the current outbreak are linked to cases in the area during the 2014–2016 outbreak. The current outbreak is likely caused by persistent infection in a survivor.  
  • The risk of EVD for most travelers to Guinea is considered low. Only those going to the outbreak area or who have contact with a person with EVD are at risk.

Although the potential for the introduction of EVD into the United States is thought to be very low, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) are taking steps to prepare. 

  • On February 24, 2021, CDC issued Level 3 travel warnings to avoid all nonessential travel to DRC and Guinea for Ebola. As DRC’s outbreak is now over, CDC has removed the Level 3 travel warning for DRC for Ebola. Level 4 travel warnings have been issued for both countries for COVID-19.
  • On March 4, 2021, an order from the Department of Homeland Security required all airline travelers who were in the DRC or Guinea in the previous 21 days be funneled into six U.S. airports: Washington-Dulles, New York’s John F. Kennedy International, Newark International, Chicago O’Hare, Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson, and Los Angeles International. Travelers are checked for symptoms upon arrival and referred for further medical evaluation, if needed. 
  • On March 5, 2021, VDH staff began assessing travelers arriving in Virginia who were in the DRC or Guinea in the previous 21 days. VDH will monitor those travelers who were in the outbreak areas or who report potential exposure to the Ebola virus. Travelers who were in the Ebola-affected country and do not report any potential exposure to the Ebola virus will perform self-monitoring. VDH will refer ill travelers who develop EVD-related symptoms for clinical evaluation. 
  • Beginning April 30, 2021, passengers who have been in the DRC in the previous 21 days will no longer be funneled into six U.S. airports. CDC is also no longer requiring airlines to collect and send contact information of these passengers for public health monitoring. The outbreak in Guinea is ongoing. Travelers who were in Guinea in the past 21 days will continue to be funneled into six U.S. airports, and airlines are still required to collect and send these passengers’ contact information for public health follow-up.

Key resources about EVD are listed below.

Last updated: May 7, 2021