The Role of the Polio Program Infrastructure in Response to Ebola Virus Disease Outbreak in Nigeria 2014

J Infect Dis. 2016 May 1;213 Suppl 3(Suppl 3):S140-6. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jiv581. Epub 2016 Feb 16.


Background: The current West African outbreak of the Ebola virus disease (EVD) began in Guinea in December 2013 and rapidly spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone. On 20 July 2014, a sick individual flew into Lagos, Nigeria, from Monrovia, Liberia, setting off an outbreak in Lagos and later in Port Harcourt city. The government of Nigeria, supported by the World Health Organization and other partners, mounted a response to the outbreak relying on the polio program experiences and infrastructure. On 20 October 2014, the country was declared free of EVD.

Methods: We examined the organization and operations of the response to the 2014 EVD outbreak in Nigeria and how experiences and support from the country's polio program infrastructure accelerated the outbreak response.

Results: The deputy incident manager of the National Polio Emergency Operations Centre was appointed the incident manager of the Ebola Emergency Operations Centre (EEOC), the body that coordinated and directed the response to the EVD outbreak in the country. A total of 892 contacts were followed up, and blood specimens were collected from 61 persons with suspected EVD and tested in designated laboratories. Of these, 19 (31%) were positive for Ebola, and 11 (58%) of the case patients were healthcare workers. The overall case-fatality rate was 40%. EVD sensitization and training were conducted during the outbreak and for 2 months after the outbreak ended. The World Health Organization deployed its surveillance and logistics personnel from non-Ebola-infected states to support response activities in Lagos and Rivers states.

Conclusions: The support from the polio program infrastructure, particularly the coordination mechanism adopted (the EEOC), the availability of skilled personnel in the polio program, and lessons learned from managing the polio eradication program greatly contributed to the speedy containment of the 2014 EVD outbreak in Nigeria.

Keywords: Ebola virus disease; National emergency operation center; Nigeria; polio program infrastructure.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Disease Notification
  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Health Personnel / education
  • Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola / epidemiology*
  • Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola / history
  • Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola / prevention & control
  • History, 21st Century
  • Humans
  • Poliomyelitis / epidemiology
  • Poliomyelitis / prevention & control
  • Population Surveillance* / methods