Travel and Border Health Measures to Prevent the International Spread of Ebola

MMWR Suppl. 2016 Jul 8;65(3):57-67. doi: 10.15585/mmwr.su6503a9.


During the 2014-2016 Ebola virus disease (Ebola) epidemic in West Africa, CDC implemented travel and border health measures to prevent international spread of the disease, educate and protect travelers and communities, and minimize disruption of international travel and trade. CDC staff provided in-country technical assistance for exit screening in countries in West Africa with Ebola outbreaks, implemented an enhanced entry risk assessment and management program for travelers at U.S. ports of entry, and disseminated information and guidance for specific groups of travelers and relevant organizations. New and existing partnerships were crucial to the success of this response, including partnerships with international organizations, such as the World Health Organization, the International Organization for Migration, and nongovernment organizations, as well as domestic partnerships with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and state and local health departments. Although difficult to assess, travel and border health measures might have helped control the epidemic's spread in West Africa by deterring or preventing travel by symptomatic or exposed persons and by educating travelers about protecting themselves. Enhanced entry risk assessment at U.S. airports facilitated management of travelers after arrival, including the recommended active monitoring. These measures also reassured airlines, shipping companies, port partners, and travelers that travel was safe and might have helped maintain continued flow of passenger traffic and resources needed for the response to the affected region. Travel and border health measures implemented in the countries with Ebola outbreaks laid the foundation for future reconstruction efforts related to borders and travel, including development of regional surveillance systems, cross-border coordination, and implementation of core capacities at designated official points of entry in accordance with the International Health Regulations (2005). New mechanisms developed during this response to target risk assessment and management of travelers arriving in the United States may enhance future public health responses. The activities summarized in this report would not have been possible without collaboration with many U.S. and international partners (

MeSH terms

  • Africa, Western / epidemiology
  • Airports
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. / organization & administration
  • Disease Outbreaks / prevention & control*
  • Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola / epidemiology
  • Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • International Cooperation
  • Internationality*
  • Mass Screening*
  • Professional Role
  • Risk Assessment
  • Travel*
  • United States