Message for U.S. Citizens: Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever UPDATE

This Message is an update to the Message for U.S. Citizens sent on April 4, 2014.

Representatives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), experts in viral diseases, have arrived in Liberia. They are assisting the Liberian Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MOHSW) with case identification, reporting, and contact tracing as well as setting up a laboratory for testing various hemorrhagic fevers including Ebola. The U.S. Embassy continues to remind U.S. citizens that Ebola hemorrhagic fever is a rare but deadly disease. The risk to most travelers is low, but travelers could be infected if they come into contact with an ill person’s blood or body fluids, sick wildlife, or infected bushmeat.

The bulleted list below provides information on transmission of the Ebola virus and easy precautions you can take to protect yourself:

The suspected reservoirs for Ebola are fruit bats.
Transmission to humans is thought to originate from infected bats or primates that have become infected by bats.
Undercooked infected bat and primate (bush) meat transmits the virus to humans.
Human to human transmission is only achieved by physical contact with a person who is acutely and gravely ill from the Ebola virus or their body fluids.
Transmission among humans is almost exclusively among caregiver family members or health care workers tending to the very ill.
The virus is easily killed by contact with soap, bleach, sunlight, or drying.  A washing machine will kill the virus in clothing saturated with infected body fluids.
A person can incubate the virus without symptoms for 2-21 days, the average being five to eight days before becoming ill.  THE PERSON IS NOT CONTAGIOUS until they are acutely ill.
Only when ill, does the viral load express itself first in the blood and then in other bodily fluids (to include vomit, feces, urine, breast milk, semen and sweat).
There are documented cases from Kikwit, Democratic Republic of Congo of an Ebola outbreak in a village that had the custom of children never touching an ill adult.  Children living for days in small one room huts with parents who died from Ebola did not become infected.
You cannot contract Ebola by handling money, buying local bread or swimming in a pool.
At this time, there is no medical reason to stop flights, close borders, restrict travel or close embassies, businesses or schools.
As always practice good hand washing techniques.
The U.S. Embassy is open for business as usual.
To obtain Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) travel notices, call the CDC at 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636) from within the United States, or 1-404-639-3534 from overseas, or visit the CDC website at For more information on Ebola hemorrhagic fever, please visit the CDC website at

We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens, especially those traveling to or residing in the forest region in South Central Guinea or Liberia’s northern border region enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) at  STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates, and makes it easier for the U.S. embassy or nearest U.S. consulate to contact you in an emergency.  If you don’t have Internet access, enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

You can stay in touch and get Embassy updates by checking the U.S. Embassy Monrovia website.  You can also get global updates at the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs website where you can find the current Worldwide Caution, Travel Warning, Travel Alerts, and Country Specific Information. Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook to have travel information at your fingertips.  If you don’t have internet access, current information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada, or, for callers from other countries, a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444.  These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

The U.S. Embassy in Monrovia is located 502 Benson Street, Monrovia, Liberia, and is open Mon – Thursday 0800- 1730 and Fridays 0800-1300; (Tel: 231 776 777 000).  If you are a U.S. citizen in need of urgent assistance, the emergency number for the U.S. Embassy is: 077-677-7000 (press 1 at the prompt).