Emergencies preparedness, response

Country support

WHO Collaborating Centre Network

Many of the internationally important outbreaks involve the diverse group of arboviral diseases and viral haemorrhagic fevers. The WHO Collaborating Centres global network of centres for these diseases has collaborating centres in every WHO region and about one third of the centres are in developing countries. These centres work in close partnership with WHO and Member States to investigate, confirm and control outbreaks. Through the WHO Collaborating Centre searchable database,information about those centres and laboratories dealing specifically with Ebola haemorrhagic fever is available.

Ebola haemorrhagic fever in Africa

There had been no recognized cases of Ebola haemorrhagic fever in Africa from the 1970s until the 1990s:

  • A large epidemic occurred in Kikwit, Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) in 1995 with 315 cases, 244 of which had fatal outcomes.
  • One human case of Ebola haemorrhagic fever and several cases in chimpanzees were confirmed in Côte d'Ivoire in 1994-95.
  • In Gabon, Ebola haemorrhagic fever was first documented in 1994 and outbreaks occurred in February 1996, July 1996 and November 2001.
  • Ebola outbreak, Uganda 2000

  • In October 2000 an outbreak occurred in northern Uganda with 425 cases. In 2000, the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network responded to the outbreak in Uganda rapidly, the first report of the virus in this country.
  • An international team was brought together under WHO coordination to assist the Ugandan Government. Over 400 Ebola cases were isolated and treated and 6 000 contacts tracked over a 30 000 sq. km area affected by ongoing conflict. In addition a high security field laboratory was established for the first time in an Ebola response by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, United States.

    There was sustained follow-up to the initial containment of the outbreak: A permanent isolation ward was established in Gulu, Uganda and a community-based early warning surveillance and response system for priority infectious diseases was implemented June 2001. As a result, a new focus of 3 suspected cases of haemorrhagic fever was detected within three days, patients isolated and specimens tested negative at the National Institute for Virology, South Africa.

  • From October 2001 to December 2003, several outbreaks of the Zaïre subtype, were reported in Gabon and the Republic of Congo with a total of 302 cases and 254 deaths: Mékambo-Mbomo-Kéllé 2001-2002, Kéllé-Mbomo 2003 and Mbandza-Mbomo 2003.

    For more information on these outbreaks see the report from the Republic of Congo and a video presentation
  • Other resources

  • From May 2004, an outbreak occurred in South Sudan. For more details see Disease Outbreak News (Ebola archive) and The Ebola Crisis below.