The 2014 epidemic of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), caused by a filovirus, has affected multiple countries in West Africa (Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, and Senegal), along with Spain and the United States, becoming the worst EVD outbreak since its discovery in 1976. Until 2014, previous outbreaks have been confined to smaller geographic areas and often only affected a few hundred people. Confirmed and suspected cases of EVD have now occurred in the United States through human-to-human transmission, requiring the U.S. medical and public health systems to prepare for and respond to domestic cases of EVD. The heightened awareness and attention to the disease in the United States has also led to questions from affected communities on specific characteristics of the virus, how the virus behaves, and personal protective equipment and personal protective behaviors that can be used to prevent its spread and reduce exposure.
At the request of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, the National Institutes of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Institute of Medicine , in collaboration with the National Research Council, convened a workshop on November 3, 2014, with key stakeholders and experts to discuss the research priorities that could guide medical and public health practice. Discussions included the degree of transmission and biopersistence of the virus under a range of conditions and on a variety of materials, as well as issues of handling potentially infected materials, decontamination, and the training and personal protective equipment usage of traditional and nontraditional workers involved in the full spectrum of this response. Research Priorities to Inform Public Health and Medical Practice for Ebola Virus Disease summarizes the presentations and discussion of the workshop.
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