Sierra Leone free from Ebola, according to the World Health Organization
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone, West Africa, to be over. In a statement released on Thursday, the UN organization announced "the end of the last flare-up of the Ebola virus disease in the country". More than 10,000 people had died of it in the past two years, the last case being 42 days ago. It is the second attempt, because West Africa was already considered free of Ebola in January.
The last suspected case occurred 42 days ago
The recent wave of the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone, West Africa, has apparently ended. This was announced by the World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday in Geneva. Accordingly, the last suspected case in the country was 42 days ago, which corresponds to twice the incubation period of the disease. Usually, after an infection, typical Ebola symptoms such as fever, headache, vomiting or diarrhea appear within 21 days. In the further course of the viral disease there is severe external and internal bleeding, which mainly affects the gastrointestinal tract and the mucous membranes in the eye, mouth or genital area ("hemorrhagic fever"). If the disease takes a severe course, e.g. the kidney or liver fail. Therefore, in many cases the disease is fatal.
It can be assumed that "all transmission sources in the region have been identified and stopped," said the WHO. “However, the WHO continues to stress that Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea are still at risk of Ebola flare-up, mainly due to virus persistence in some survivors. Therefore, we have to remain on high alert and ready to respond, ”continued the announcement. The reason for the caution is the fact that the highly contagious Ebola virus is transmitted via body fluids and e.g. can survive in the sperm for up to nine months after the disease.
Virus was discovered 40 years ago
The worst epidemic to date since the virus was discovered 40 years ago, according to the UN organization, had broken out in Guinea at the end of December 2013 and from there reached travelers in neighboring countries Liberia and Sierra Leone. 28,000 people became infected with the virus, more than 10,000 fell victim to the disease. The WHO experts had declared the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone over in November 2015. In January, however, there was another infection, which put more than 100 people in quarantine.
Guinea, where the epidemic first appeared, was initially declared Ebola-free on December 29, but the observation period runs until the end of March. Liberia was first considered free of new infections in May 2015, but then there were two new outbreaks. The WHO officially announced the end of the latest Ebola wave in Liberia on January 14.
According to a report by the AFP news agency, the organization had come under fire for its initially sluggish response to the Ebola epidemic. Independent experts said in a report commissioned by WHO itself that the response to warnings was far too late and that local communities had not been adequately involved in the fight against the virus at first. (No)