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Evidence to inform decontamination practices at Ebola holding units (EHUs) and treatment centres is lacking. We conducted an audit of decontamination procedures inside Connaught Hospital EHU in Freetown, Sierra Leone, by assessing environmental swab specimens for evidence of contamination with Ebola virus by RT-PCR. Swabs were collected following discharge of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) patients before and after routine decontamination. Prior to decontamination, Ebola virus RNA was detected within a limited area at all bedside sites tested, but not at any sites distant to the bedside. Following decontamination, few areas contained detectable Ebola virus RNA. In areas beneath the bed there was evidence of transfer of Ebola virus material during cleaning. Retraining of cleaning staff reduced evidence of environmental contamination after decontamination. Current decontamination procedures appear to be effective in eradicating persistence of viral RNA. This study supports the use of viral swabs to assess Ebola viral contamination within the clinical setting. We recommend that regular refresher training of cleaning staff and audit of environmental contamination become standard practice at all Ebola care facilities during EVD outbreaks.

Original publication





PloS one

Publication Date





King's Sierra Leone Partnership, King's Centre for Global Health, King's College London, and King's Health Partners, London, United Kingdom.


Humans, Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola, RNA, Viral, Disease Outbreaks, Decontamination, Hospitals, Sierra Leone, Ebolavirus