Ebola Surveillance - Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone

MMWR Suppl. 2016 Jul 8;65(3):35-43. doi: 10.15585/mmwr.su6503a6.


Developing a surveillance system during a public health emergency is always challenging but is especially so in countries with limited public health infrastructure. Surveillance for Ebola virus disease (Ebola) in the West African countries heavily affected by Ebola (Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone) faced numerous impediments, including insufficient numbers of trained staff, community reticence to report cases and contacts, limited information technology resources, limited telephone and Internet service, and overwhelming numbers of infected persons. Through the work of CDC and numerous partners, including the countries' ministries of health, the World Health Organization, and other government and nongovernment organizations, functional Ebola surveillance was established and maintained in these countries. CDC staff were heavily involved in implementing case-based surveillance systems, sustaining case surveillance and contact tracing, and interpreting surveillance data. In addition to helping the ministries of health and other partners understand and manage the epidemic, CDC's activities strengthened epidemiologic and data management capacity to improve routine surveillance in the countries affected, even after the Ebola epidemic ended, and enhanced local capacity to respond quickly to future public health emergencies. However, the many obstacles overcome during development of these Ebola surveillance systems highlight the need to have strong public health, surveillance, and information technology infrastructure in place before a public health emergency occurs. Intense, long-term focus on strengthening public health surveillance systems in developing countries, as described in the Global Health Security Agenda, is needed.The activities summarized in this report would not have been possible without collaboration with many U.S and international partners (http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/outbreaks/2014-west-africa/partners.html).

MeSH terms

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. / organization & administration
  • Epidemics / prevention & control*
  • Guinea / epidemiology
  • Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • International Cooperation
  • Liberia / epidemiology
  • Population Surveillance*
  • Sierra Leone / epidemiology
  • United States