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Gaceta Sanitaria

Print version ISSN 0213-9111


JANE, Mireia  and  GRUPO DE TRABAJO DE LA RED DE VIGILANCIA EPIDEMIOLOGICA EN CATALUNA et al. Ebola alert: results and challenges in public health. A view from Catalonia (Spain). Gac Sanit [online]. 2017, vol.31, n.2, pp.161-166. ISSN 0213-9111.

The Ebola outbreak in Guinea Conakry was notified to the World Health Organization (WHO) in March 2014. It is the most complex Ebola outbreak to date, affecting Guinea Conakry as well as the surrounding countries and with a risk of the disease spreading outside Africa. For this reason, the World Health Organization declared this Ebola outbreak an international public health emergency in August 2014. The Public Health Agency of Catalonia, through the Spanish Alert and Emergencies Coordination Network, initiated public health actions in March 2014, developing a single protocol of action to be applied by all the health care providers in the whole Catalan territory, advice for travellers and voluntary workers arriving from affected countries and a weekly newsletter addressed to health professionals. At the same time, the Ebola Analysis and Monitoring Committee and the Ebola Scientific and Advisory Committee were established. More than 9600 professional health workers attended training sessions and informative sessions. From August 2014, the Catalan Epidemiological Surveillance Emergency Service (SUVEC) reported 117 suspected Ebola cases, of which only 3 met the epidemiological and clinical criteria leading to the activation of the action protocol. All 3 cases proved negative for Ebola. Also, 95 voluntary workers were monitored, 52% of whom were female and 74% had returned from Sierra Leone. Dealing with the suspected Ebola cases required a detailed advance preparation and planning, with a coordinated effort between the epidemiological and health-care network, and all the agents involved, as well as precise, realistic and appropriate risk communication. The prior screening of suspected Ebola cases by the SUVEC meant the immediate protocol was activated only in the cases that met the epidemiological and clinical criteria. This is a key point to be reinforced in any future international public health alerts.

Keywords : Ebola; Public health surveillance; Early warning system; Coordination; Response.

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