The Administration's Response to Ebola

President Obama Provides an Update on the U.S.-Led Response to Ebola:

"Here’s the bottom line. Patients can beat this disease. And we can beat this disease. But we have to stay vigilant. We have to work together at every level — federal, state and local. And we have to keep leading the global response, because the best way to stop this disease, the best way to keep Americans safe, is to stop it at its source — in West Africa."

Ten months ago, the first U.S. personnel deployed to West Africa to fight the Ebola outbreak on the frontlines in West Africa. This epidemic has grown into the deadliest Ebola outbreak the world has ever seen — and the President is committed to treating and tackling Ebola as both a national security priority, and an example of American leadership.

The U.S. has built, coordinated, and led a worldwide response to the Ebola outbreak while strengthening our preparedness here at home. And thanks to the hard work of our military members, civilian responders, and health care workers, we have dramatically bent the curve of the epidemic. Cases are down 80 percent from peak levels. With this improved outlook, the President is planning to bring virtually all of the troops who deployed to the region home by April 30, while continuing to ramp up our civilian response beyond the 10,000 civilian workers who are already involved in our response effort.

We’re making significant progress, but much work remains to meet this challenge until there are zero cases in West Africa and our U.S. public health infrastructure is fully complete.

Get the latest CDC updates on the current outbreak, and continue reading to see what the U.S. is doing to consolidate this progress and start the next phase of our response.

Understand the Facts

  • It’s not transmitted through the air like the flu.
  • According to public health authorities, the only way a person can get Ebola is by coming into direct contact with the body fluids (urine, saliva, sweat, feces, vomit, breast milk and semen) of someone who is already showing symptoms.
  • If the person does not have symptoms, they are not contagious.

October 24, 2014

An Ebola Update from Dr. Anthony Fauci

Dr. Anthony Fauci, infectious disease chief at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), explains how Ebola spreads and what we’re doing to address it in the U.S. and in West Africa.


In response to frequently asked questions about Ebola, here's what our public health officials are saying.

Q: What is Ebola, and what are the symptoms?
A: Ebola virus is the cause of a Ebola virus disease. Symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Joint and muscle aches
  • Weakness
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Lack of appetite
  • Abnormal bleeding

Symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure to Ebola virus though 8-10 days is most common.

Q: How is Ebola transmitted?
A: Ebola is transmitted through direct contact with the blood or body fluids (urine, saliva, sweat, feces, vomit, breast milk, and semen) of an infected symptomatic person or though exposure to objects (such as needles) that have been contaminated with infected secretions.

Q: Can I get Ebola from a person who is infected but doesn’t have any symptoms?
A: No. Individuals who are not symptomatic are not contagious. In order for the virus to be transmitted, an individual would have to have direct contact with an individual who is experiencing symptoms or has died of the disease.

Visit the CDC website for more information on Ebola.

Where We Stand Today

In March 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported an outbreak of Ebola virus disease in the West African country of Guinea. Additional cases have since been reported in the countries of Liberia and Sierra Leone, as well as Nigeria and Senegal. To date, there have been more than 22,500 reported Ebola cases in West Africa, with more than 8,900 deaths. At home, U.S. medical teams have treated 12 Ebola patients — all but two recovered.

Since the start of the outbreak, the United States has sent more than 3,000 DOD, CDC, USAID, and other U.S. health officials to Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea to assist with response efforts, as part of a 10,000-person U.S.-backed civilian response. With their help, the U.S. government has:

  • Constructed 15 Ebola treatment units in the region
  • Provided more than 400 metric tons of personal protective equipment and other medical and relief supplies
  • Operated more than 190 burial teams in the region
  • Conducted aggressive contact tracing to identify chains of transmission
  • Trained health care workers and conducted community outreach
  • Worked with international partners to identify travelers who may have Ebola before they leave the region

Thanks to their efforts, and the work of countless others from around the world, the number of people who are contracting Ebola has declined sharply from peak levels.

Ebola cases are declining

The decline in cases is encouraging, but just one case can lead to flare-ups of the disease that could prolong the outbreak in West Africa and endanger Americans on our shores. As we move into the next phase of our government-wide and worldwide response to Ebola, the U.S. will continue to focus on protecting against cases at home and getting to zero cases in West Africa.

What We’re Doing at Home

Since early October, CDC and Department of Homeland Security personnel have conducted entry screening to detect signs of Ebola or potential exposure among all passengers arriving in the U.S. at the following airports, which now receive nearly all travelers coming in from countries affected by the outbreak:

  • John F. Kennedy International Airport - New York, NY
  • Washington Dulles International Airport - Washington, D.C.
  • Newark Liberty International Airport - Newark, NJ
  • Chicago O'Hare International Airport - Chicago, IL
  • Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport - Atlanta, GA

A total of 7,700 adults and children have been screened. Each traveler has his or her contact information forwarded to state and local public health authorities, and is subjected to 21 days of compulsory monitoring to ensure any signs of Ebola are detected early. If an individual displays symptoms, they are isolated, rapidly diagnosed, and treated.

If there is a need to treat an Ebola patient in the U.S., the CDC and HHS have led efforts to ensure that our health system is prepared to spot, diagnose, transport, and treat the patient effectively without infecting others. Prior to October 2014, there were only three facilities that were officially able to contain and treat Ebola: Emory University Hospital, University of Nebraska Medical Center, and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Center. Now, we have a network of 51 Ebola treatment centers in 16 states and D.C., with 72 available beds.

On top of expanding the network of hospitals that can assess, respond, and treat patients, the U.S. government is enhancing our domestic preparedness in these key ways:

  • Increasing the number of Ebola testing labs throughout the U.S. that can quickly and safely screen a potential Ebola specimen
  • Educating more than 150,000 health care workers on how to identify, isolate, diagnose, and care for patients under investigation for Ebola
  • Developing countermeasures — including the first Ebola vaccine to progress to Phase 2 testing — to prevent and treat Ebola
  • Converting at least 10 of the Ebola Treatment Centers into long-term Regional Ebola and Pandemic Treatment Centers for long-term readiness for years to come
  • Helping state and local public health systems accelerate and improve their operational readiness and preparedness for Ebola or other infectious diseases

Read here for more details on our continued domestic preparedness efforts.

What We’re Doing Abroad

The U.S. strategy to combat the Ebola outbreak abroad consists of four key goals:

  • Controlling the epidemic at its source in West Africa
  • Minimizing the secondary impacts of the epidemic that aren't directly caused by the disease
  • Leading a coordinated international response
  • Building a robust global health security infrastructure so we're prepared over the long run to confront epidemics such as the Ebola epidemic

The United States has already committed more than $921 million toward fighting Ebola in West Africa and convened a special U.N. Security Council on the epidemic. We will continue to pursue an adaptable strategy that meets the evolving conditions on the ground until there are zero cases of Ebola in the region. With the significant progress we’re making toward that goal, the U.S. is planning for the return of the majority of the troops deployed in Operation United Assistance by April 30, though more than half of our troops are already back in the U.S. About 100 military personnel, working with regional military partners, will remain to support our response efforts.

As we welcome our troops home, we will increase the strength of our civilian response. With more than 10,000 civilians engaged in this effort with U.S. support, we will contain the virus, launch recovery efforts to strengthen health systems, prepare for future infectious disease outbreaks, and build stronger global health security. This fight is far from over, but our sustained engagement in the region will help bring an end to the epidemic -- and will help health workers reopen their doors to treat for malaria, immunize more children, and keep pregnant mothers healthy.

Read here for more details on the next phase of our international response to Ebola.

What We Need to Fight Ebola

Since the first cases of Ebola were reported in West Africa last spring, Americans have understood the need to contain the disease at its source while fortifying our preparedness in the U.S. That is why Republican and Democratic lawmakers came together to approve $5.4 billion of the President’s emergency funding request to implement a comprehensive Ebola response.

The Administration will use these funds to:

  • Prepare the U.S. health care system for Ebola cases
  • Continue the development of Ebola vaccines and treatments
  • Build on progress combating the epidemic in West Africa
  • Enable detection and prevent the spread of Ebola to other countries

Read here to see how federal agencies are using funds to improve both our domestic and international response to this epidemic.

How You Can Help

Looking for ways to help fight the global spread of Ebola? Regular Americans across the country are helping in a variety of ways right now. Here are a couple options available to you.

Sign Up to be a Medical Volunteer
If you're a qualified medical professional and want to volunteer to work in West Africa, the Center for International Disaster Information (CIDI) can connect you with reputable organizations who are active in the Ebola response. Click here to learn more.

The CDC is also developing an introductory safety training course for licensed clinicians who want to work in an Ebola Treatment Unit in Africa. Learn more here.

Click here to meet some of the CDC experts who have traveled to West Africa to help stop the spread of the disease.

Share Your Idea to Help Combat The Global Spread of Ebola
USAID is calling on the global community to come up with practical, cost-effective innovations that can help health care workers on the front lines give better care and stop Ebola's spread. Learn more and take action now.

Learn About Other Ways to Contribute
For those who wish to donate money or contribute in other ways, USAID is providing information about non-governmental organizations responding to Ebola in West Africa. Get more information from the USAID website here.