Ebola Outbreak Finally Over Except For The Clusters

On March 27 Guinea reported completing the required 42 day observation period and 90 day enhanced surveillance period since the country’s last reported case of Ebola (linked to the initial transmission) tested negative twice.

In short, now all three countries involved in the West Africa Ebola outbreak have cleared these hurdles (H/T ScienceInsider).  This contributed to the World Health Organization (WHO) declaring on Tuesday that the West Africa epidemic is no longer a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.  Any travel and trade restrictions placed on Sierra Leone, Liberia or Guinea in connection with this outbreak should be lifted.

This does not mean that the disease has been eliminated.  Clusters of the disease continue as it is cleared from the surviving population.  Twelve such clusters have been reported, as detailed in the latest WHO Situation Report.  There is one such cluster currently active in Guinea and the WHO anticipates clusters to emerge periodically over the next few months.

While the disease is not as prevalent as it’s been for the last two years, the affected countries, and really the world as a whole, can do much to ensure that we are better prepared for the next instance of Ebola striking out.  The Situation Report details the efforts made to date.

In the two years and change since this epidemic started (the longest outbreak of the disease to date) there were over 28 thousand cases and more than 11 thousand deaths.  All but a few of these were in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, seriously affecting the public health infrastructure and other institutions in these countries.  Absent continued assistance and support, I think these countries will be more susceptible to future outbreaks.

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