Screening People Traveling from West Africa to the U.S

Starting in October 2014, travelers arriving from Guinea, Liberia, or Sierra Leone were routed through five U.S. ports of entry: Atlanta, Chicago’s O’Hare, New York’s JFK, Newark, and Washington, D.C.’s Dulles airports for health assessments and Ebola screenings before entering the United States.

CDC’s Division of Global Migration and Quarantine worked with the quarantine stations and Customs and Border Protection partners at these five locations. It set up protocols for primary, secondary, and tertiary screenings and hired and trained surge staff to interview travelers and provide Check and Report Ebola (CARE) kits. These kits included a cell phone, thermometer, and information about Ebola.  Travelers were also given contact information so that they could report their temperatures and any symptoms consistent with Ebola twice a day for 21 days to their destination state and local health departments.

These enhanced risk assessments were discontinued for travelers from Liberia on September 21, 2015; for travelers from Sierra Leone on December 22, 2015; and for travelers from Guinea on February 19, 2016.  Of the over 38,000 travelers assessed from October 11, 2014 through February 19, 2016, only one had Ebola—detected through self-monitoring as recommended.

Cetron, Martin (Interview 2)

Dr. Martin Cetron discusses his work as director of CDC's Division of Global Migration and Quarantine setting up traveler screening and monitoring in the US as well as the epidemic of fear that surrounded this process. (Transcript)

U.S. Entry Screening Infographic

U.S. Entry Screening for Ebola infographic, produced by CDC's Division of Creative Services
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Ebola CARE Kits

While Ebola outbreaks were occurring in West Africa, 18,672 travelers entered the United States from Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, and 13,304 Check and Report Ebola (CARE) kits were distributed along with 12,300 CARE phones. The Communications Team of CDC’s Global Migration Task Force (GMTF) worked with graphic designers to develop the materials given to these travelers: Ebola symptoms, 21-day symptom and temperature check records, CDC CARE card, and contacts for state and local health departments.

The GMTF Communications Team also developed Primary Screening tips for overseas staff conducting exit health screenings, trainings, and oversight. They developed the RING card (Recognize ill traveler, Isolate, Notify, and Give support) in English and French for community health workers and airport security staff.

The purpose of active monitoring is to ensure that a person’s health is closely followed by public health authorities so that, if symptoms develop, action can be taken immediately to isolate the person from others and arrange for medical evaluation and treatment.


RING card