Ebola Update: Is the Crisis Over?3 min read
You couldn’t turn on the news or open a newspaper this past October without being blasted with Ebola headlines. When the Ebola virus found its way into the U.S., panic ensued. People were afraid of coming in contact with the potentially deadly virus, especially on planes and in hospitals.
After a few months went by and those U.S. citizens sickened with the virus got better and no one new become infected, Ebola slipped out of the news cycle.
But just because there haven’t been any new cases of Ebola in the U.S. and there haven’t been reports of it in the nightly news doesn’t mean the virus has gone away.
The stark reality is that Ebola is still a major issue in Western Africa.
On July 1, the World Health Organization (WHO), reported that there have been 20 to 27 confirmed cases of Ebola for five consecutive weeks. As of June 29, 2015, there were 27,551 cases and 11,236 deaths reported worldwide, with the vast majority of them in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia.
Liberia was actually declared Ebola free May 9, but that has since changed. On June 29, a new confirmed case of Ebola was detected in that country – it was the first new case since March 20.
According to WHO, that case was a 17-year-old male who showed up at his local health facility where he was treated for malaria. Unfortunately, he passed away on June 28 and post-mortem testing confirmed he had Ebola. The origin of his infection is still unknown.
Now, authorities are working hard to figure out how many people that young man was in contact with while he was sick and potentially infectious with Ebola. Liberia’s Ebola response team reported that his family is quarantined and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has a rapid response team investigating the case.
Health workers in West Africa are still at a high risk of contracting Ebola. There have been a total of 874 confirmed health worker infections reported from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone since the start of the outbreak, with 509 reported deaths.
Ebola is still having an effect on the U.S.
Travelers coming to the U.S. from Liberia will still have to enter through one of five U.S. airports: New York’s JFK, Washington-Dulles, Newark International, Chicago O’Hare, and Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson. However, the CDC no longer recommends active monitoring for those travelers coming from Liberia – there’s no word on whether that will change, taking into consideration the latest confirmed case of Ebola in that country.
Travelers will still have their temperature taken and be asked about their travel history and possible exposure to Ebola. Travelers from Liberia will now receive a CARE Kit that includes information about Ebola, a thermometer and contact information for state and local health departments in case they develop a fever or any other symptoms consistent with Ebola.
The Ebola screening and monitoring for travelers coming in the U.S. from Guinea or Sierra Leone is a bit more involved since the virus is still quite rampant in those countries.
While Ebola is still an issue in West Africa, the situation is improving in Guinea or Sierra Leone; WHO reports there has been a slowdown in the number of infections in those countries. Both countries now have enough treatment beds to be able to isolate and treat patients with Ebola, and to bury everyone known to have died of the disease – major steps that help prevent the spread of the virus.
Photo from CNN.