CDC report documents global fight against Ebola

“Terrifying. Life-changing. Rapid. Unprecedented.” 

Those are some of the words used in a five-minute video from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that attempts to describe the recent Ebola epidemic that began in West Africa, claimed more than 11,000 lives, and reached across the globe.

The YouTube video is part of the center’s newly released report, The Road to Zero: CDC’s Response to the West African Ebola Epidemic, 2014-2015, that documents the CDC’s fight against the West African Ebola epidemic through the stories of responders, among other avenues.

“It offers first-time responders crucial information from the perspective of other responders,” Kristen Nordlund, spokeswoman for the CDC’s National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, told BioPrepWatch.

“These stories are extremely important and helpful, as they highlight the specific work required of responders and the hurdles they face,” Nordlund said. “A responder’s job is far from easy – it is a difficult and sometimes dangerous task, but a critically important one.” 

The CDC report – which also includes detailed infographics, on-site photographs, and informational text -- is also useful for the ongoing biosurveillance efforts under way in the U.S. because “it pinpoints the actions the CDC has taken to control the epidemic, including an in-depth look at contact tracing and the challenges faced along the way,” she said.

Contact tracing, for instance, is used to identify new Ebola cases quickly, thereby increasing a patient’s chances of survival. The process also ensures that patients showing symptoms of Ebola are rapidly isolated so that other people aren’t infected and outbreaks are contained.

“You’ll see that over the past 20 years, if infected people are removed from the community within the first two or three days of the disease, you can stop the chain of transmission,” Pierre Rollin, deputy chief of the CDC’s Viral Special Pathogens Branch, said in the report. “The knowledge we have gained as a result of this response is crucial for our continued efforts, including continued surveillance."

The report provides additional information on other areas, including health care, border protection, communication and education, and mobilizing laboratories.

Nordlund pointed out that “the report reminds us that we still have a long road ahead as we continue to fight Ebola and pursue our goal of zero new cases in the affected countries."

“Ebola is unpredictable and difficult to control; however, the road to zero is possible because of the people who have joined this fight,” Norldund said to BioPrepWatch. “This report shows that people – from health care workers to West African citizens who take steps to prevent the disease – are key to securing global health.” 

The report is available online at: http://www.cdc.gov/about/ebola/index.html.