Where did the Ebola epidemic begin

Ebola epidemic in West Africa - 2014–2015

Beginning of the epidemic

The Ebola epidemic started in Guinea in late 2013 and then quickly spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone. In August 2014, the WHO declared that Ebola virus disease was a health emergency of international concern. This announcement marked the beginning of an international response to address this unprecedented crisis. The details of the global countermeasures against this epidemic are recorded on the WHO Ebola website (see link below). In October 2014, isolated diseases occurred for the first time outside of Africa (in the USA and Spain). However, the virus did not spread. On March 29, 2016, this international health emergency was declared over by the WHO. The end of this outbreak was declared on March 17, 2016 in Sierra Leone, June 1 in Guinea and June 9 in Liberia.

Current situation

Individual cases have occurred in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia in the past few months. However, these could be quickly identified and treated. The risk of an introduction into Switzerland is therefore still low and a spread is highly unlikely. This assessment follows that of the countries of the European Union (EU).

Measures and cooperation in Switzerland

Since the beginning of August 2014, the FOPH has had a special working group (task force) on Ebola. She maintained close contact with all important bodies at home and abroad and prepared with them comprehensively for possible Ebola cases. The focus was on the scenario according to which a member of an aid organization (possibly) suffering from Ebola is transported to Switzerland for monitoring or treatment.

The FOPH, together with the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) and the cantons, prepared itself at an early stage in order to minimize the Ebola risk associated with refugees. A single suspected case in this country showed that the measures taken were effective.

Transport and hospital treatment

The first such transport took place at the end of September 2014 (surveillance only). At the end of November 2014, the first Ebola patient, a Cuban doctor, was transferred from Sierra Leone to Geneva University Hospital. The successful treatment was carried out by specially trained staff in a hospital with an isolation room, i.e. with isolation from the outside world. Several university and other large hospitals in Switzerland can treat Ebola patients. For this purpose, treatment concepts were developed and tested, but the employees were also trained accordingly.

In processing

In 2015, a specialized office carried out an evaluation of Ebola preparations in Switzerland in the health sector on behalf of the FOPH and the Swiss Conference of Cantonal Health Directors (GDK). Based on the recommendations of this evaluation, a working group was formed in October 2015. This consists of members of the Swiss Conference of Cantonal Health Directors (GDK), the FOPH and representatives from the cantons and hospitals. The task of this working group is to present a national solution for the future and to establish and maintain permanent structures for Switzerland for the treatment of patients with Ebola fever (or other rare infectious and highly contagious diseases).