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                                                              UN Medical Services Division

 Travel Health Advisory Handout for UN Staff or Personnel Travelling to Current Ebola Outbreak Areas[1]

 23 July 2014

Ebola virus disease is a rare and severe viral disease.  The virus can infect both humans and non-human primates (monkeys, gorillas, etc.) When infected, people can get very sick, with fever, intense weakness, headache, sore throat and pains, and may bleed form different parts of the body (i.e., hemorrhage).

The risk of travelers becoming infected after a stay in Ebola outbreak areas is extremely low, even if they visit affected districts, because transmission can only occur in the context of direct contact with blood, secretions, organs or other body fluids of dead or living infected persons or animals.  The risk may increase, however, for staff or personnel who in the course of their duties or personal dealings have direct contact with the bodily fluids of infected patients, infected animals, or bodies of persons or animals who died from Ebola virus disease.


 The UN Medical Services Division therefore recommends all UN staff and personnel travelling to an Ebola outbreak area to avoid all direct contact with a person or corpse infected with the Ebola virus.  Staff should also avoid all physical contact with any person or animal suspected of having Ebola virus disease, and avoid all contact with body fluids from persons or animals suspected of having Ebola virus disease.  Travelers should be reminded of the need to immediately seek medical attention at the first sign of illness.   Please feel free to contact msdpublichealth@un.org if you have any questions related to this advisory. 


 Based on the current information available for this event, the WHO does not recommend that any travel or trade restrictions be applied to Ebola outbreak areas in West Africa1.  However, the UN Medical Services Division will be exercising additional caution to minimize the risk of UN personnel and troops contracting and carrying this virus.


Recommendations to all UN staff and personnel


For all travel, staff should consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic before travel, preferably at least six weeks before intended date of departure.  If you are planning to visit a locality affected by or adjacent to the current Ebola outbreak, you should also have a discussion with your healthcare provider the week before departure, to obtain the most up-to-date information about risks of your intended destination.


 Avoid direct contact with blood and other bodily fluids of people with Ebola virus disease or unknown illnesses.


        Avoid direct contact with bodies of people who died of Ebola virus disease or unknown illnesses.


        Avoid unprotected sexual intercourse with an infected person or a person recovering from Ebola virus disease.


        Avoid contact with any objects, such as needles, that have been contaminated with blood or bodily fluids.


        Health care workers should practice strict infection control measures including the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) (i.e. gowns, surgical/medical masks, goggles and gloves).


        Regular hand washing (or the use of alcohol hand-rub) is required after visiting any patients in hospital, as well as after coming in contact with any sick individual, even if they do not have Ebola virus disease.

  • Avoid close contact with or handling of wild animals.

    • The following animals may be carriers: chimpanzees, gorillas, monkeys, forest antelope, pigs, porcupines, duikers, and fruit bats.
    • Remember, both live and dead animals can spread the virus.
    • Avoid handling and eating wild meat.

 Know the symptoms of Ebola virus disease and see a health care provider immediately if symptoms of the disease develop.

    • The symptoms of Ebola virus disease include: Sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat.
    • This is followed by vomiting, diarrhea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding.
    • Seek medical attention immediately if a fever and any of the above other symptoms arise during or after travel.
    • Be sure to tell your health care provider that you travelled to a region where Ebola virus disease was present.

 Wherever possible, avoid receiving treatment in hospitals that are treating Ebola patients, unless you are referred to such a facility for isolation or treatment relating to Ebola virus disease.

    • Infected healthcare workers can transmit Ebola virus disease from one patient to another.
    • Seek medical advice from your local UN clinic about where you can receive treatment for non-Ebola related illnesses or injuries.





[1] The latest figures and geographic location of the Ebola outbreak in parts of West Africa can be obtained here:  http://www.who.int/csr/don/archive/disease/ebola/en/