CDC Emergency Partners Newsletter - Ebola

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August 8, 2017

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CDC's Emergency Partners newsletter provides updates, resources, and useful tips to subscribers interested in emergency preparedness and CDC's emergency responses.

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  • More than 27,000 people were sick with Ebola during the 2014-2015 Ebola epidemic in West Africa.
  • It may take up to 3 days after symptoms start for Ebola virus to reach detectable levels in the blood.
  • Symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure to Ebola, but the average is 8 to 10 days.


Fungal Disease Awareness Week August 14 through 18 image



Ebola virus


Ebola Outbreak Update - 2017 Democratic Republic of the Congo, Bas Uélé District

Ebola first discovered 1976 near Ebola river

When the Ministry of Public Health in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (the Ministry) identified a cluster of suspected cases of Ebola in May 2017, they knew they needed to act fast. A severe, often fatal disease, Ebola can spread quickly within families and healthcare settings. Rapid identification and treatment of people sick with Ebola, and those with whom they’ve been in contact, are critical to stop this disease.

The Ministry worked with partners, including CDC, the World Health Organization, Médecins Sans Frontiéres (Doctors without Borders), Alliance for International

Medical Action and others, to develop and implement a plan to keep the outbreak from spreading. Partners worked together to set up mobile labs to test for Ebola at the epicenter of the outbreak. Health workers looked for and talked to those who might have been exposed to the virus to help them avoid spreading the virus to others. They also provided information to community members about how to prevent the spread of Ebola. The information was shared in multiple languages on the radio, and at churches, markets, and youth organizations. As people recovered, the Ministry and its partners also helped those who had been sick return to their communities.

Thanks to the quick work of the Ministry and its partners, no new cases have been identified since May 17, 2017, and the outbreak was declared over on July 2, 2017.


When Emergencies Become Personal

Peter Paye - Ebola Responder

Emergency responders step up when people are in greatest need, often entering into frightening, challenging, and high-stakes situations. When an emergency occurs, response professionals devote their energy and time toward helping people recover and reducing risk and harm under uncertain circumstances. What makes someone want to make this type of

commitment? Many who go into the field of emergency response describe an innate drive to help, certain personality traits, a family history of responders, or past experiences. For CDC’s Peter Paye, currently on the Policy and Partnership Team for the Zika response, the path to becoming a public health emergency responder is the result of many twists and turns in his life and his commitment to serving the people in his home country of Liberia.

Peter is the second of eight children and grew up in a loving and happy home in Liberia. Because of the limited resources at home and in his community, he was unable to start school

Right: Peter Paye smiles for the camera as he brings his extraordinary background and talents to help CDC address public health emergencies.

Portrait of Peter Paye

until he was 10 years old. During his senior year of high school, the Liberian Civil War forced him and his family to take refuge for 5 years in Ghana at the Buduburam Refugee Camp. In 1997, he returned to Liberia to complete his education. 

In 2001, Peter emigrated from Liberia to the United States to attend seminary. In 2006, after seminary, he moved to Atlanta to establish himself as a bivocational minister (a practicing minister with another occupation) and, in 2010, enrolled in graduate school at Georgia State University studying gerontology.

While earning his master’s degree in gerontology, he was introduced to the field of public health, which inspired him to start Healthy Nation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit serving Liberian children. Healthy Nation works with schools in Liberia to provide monthly health checkups for students, female hygiene products to allow girls to stay in school during their menstrual cycle, health education for students, and onsite trainings for first responders and pediatric clinics. From then on, Peter sent much of the money he made working in the United States to fund Healthy Nation.

In the summer of 2014, the Ebola outbreak shook Liberia, disrupting all aspects of local life including schools and the Healthy Nation program. Peter was working in Atlanta and, due to travel restrictions imposed during the outbreak, was unable to return home. The Ebola outbreak in Liberia affected Peter directly; in late July 2014, Peter’s childhood friend, an emergency room physician in Monrovia, was diagnosed with Ebola.  

Peter Paye crossing a small bridge

He survived, but another friend of Peter’s did not. In August 2014, his good friend and his friend's daughter died from the disease.

Peter explains, “I knew then that I could no longer be a spectator; I had to join the fight against Ebola. It had become personal. I was eager to help stop Ebola. I had to serve in memory of my dear friend and his daughter.”


Left: Peter returned to Liberia on behalf of CDC to help stop the spread of Ebola in his native country.

Within a year, Peter started working at CDC. He deployed to Liberia twice in 9-week stints to help set up Liberia’s new Emergency Operations Center. When CDC’s Ebola response ended in early 2016, Peter was transferred to the Zika outbreak response, continuing his work in emergency response at CDC..

As a minister, Peter sees a deep connection between faith and public health. He explained that “most faith traditions uphold the sanctity of life, and public health seeks to serve the same ideal.” As a native Liberian who worked on the Ebola outbreak response in Liberia, he stresses how important it is for “any emergency responder working in a cross-cultural context to learn and exhibit cultural competency. It is crucial that we make every effort to understand other people’s perspectives and idiosyncrasies—that effort begins before we deploy. It must be taught and rehearsed in a nonresponse environment so that we demonstrate it when we deploy.”

Peter’s current assignment at CDC is part of the agency’s expanded Zika activities. As he prepares for a professional life after Zika, his thoughts are on how best to serve both his adopted country and his home country.  Peter still operates Healthy Nation and uses his emergency response training to train first responders in schools and churches. For 2017–2018, Healthy Nation aims to serve 6,000 children.


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