Preventing the Introduction and Spread of Ebola in the United States: Frequently Asked Questions

Preventing the Introduction and Spread of Ebola in the United States: Frequently Asked Questions. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Sarah A. Lister. December 5, 2014.

Throughout 2014, an outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) has outpaced the efforts of health workers trying to contain it in three West African countries: Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. (These are often referred to as “affected countries” or “countries with widespread transmission.” In mid-November, 2014, Ebola transmission also occurred for the second time in neighboring Mali. The extent of spread in Mali remains to be seen.) EVD cases have been imported to other countries, including the United States, where two nurses were infected while caring for a patient who had traveled from Liberia.

Members of Congress and the public have considered ways to prevent the entry and spread of EVD in the United States. Official recommendations have seemed to conflict at times. In part this reflects the evolution of officials’ understanding of this new threat and the scientific and technical aspects of its control. In addition, under the nation’s federalist governance structure, the federal and state governments are empowered to take measures to control communicable diseases, and have addressed some aspects of the Ebola threat in varied ways. In the United States and abroad, public concern about the spread of Ebola also may have shaped policymakers’ decisions as well.

This CRS report answers common legal and policy questions about the potential introduction and spread of EVD in the United States.

[PDF format, 20 pages, 330.13 KB].

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