Ebola’s worst epidemic may be over, as the last 68 people who had been exposed to the virus have been released from quarantine.
The most recent Ebola epidemic killed more than 11,000 people in multiple countries, while infecting over 28,000. Most cases have already been eradicated. The 68 people were released from quarantine at midnight on Saturday morning.
“There are no longer any people who had contact with a person infected by the Ebola virus,” said Dr. Abdourahmane Bathily, who is the head of the Ebola center in Forecariah in western Guinea.
The Ebola epidemic actually began in Guinea, where it infected almost 4,000 people and killed 2,000. Guinea, along with Liberia and Sierra Leone, was one of the countries that suffered the most deadly outbreaks of the virus. The last confirmed case of Ebola is a baby, who Bathily states is still in isolation and should be released from a treatment center next week. As soon as the baby is released, Guinea can begin the 42-day period without a confirmed case that is required to declare the country free of the Ebola virus.
There have been cases that have been discovered after Liberia first declared an Ebola-free nation, but the World Health Organization (WHO) has added a 90-day surveillance period.
In Brazil, a man who began showing symptoms of the hemorrhagic fever after a trip to Guinea has tested negative for a second time. The 46-year-old man will be released soon from the Evandro Chagas National Institute of Infectious Diseases in Rio de Janeiro, where he was admitted Wednesday for quarantine after showing Ebola symptoms such as high fever, headaches, and muscle pain.
The man first sought medical care on Sunday, two days after his trip to Guinea. Upon release, he will be returned to a city in Minas Gerais to receive treatment for malaria. Thursday, authorities stated that he had tested negative for Ebola. The second test’s results will be available in 24 hours, and, if negative, the man will no longer need to be isolated. They will, however, monitor the 95 people that he has had contact with in Brazil.
Pauline Cafferkey, the Scottish nurse who contracted Ebola while working in Sierra Leone, has been declared to have made a full recovery, according to a statement from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde. Cafferkey was treated in London and released, but was re-admitted in October after the Ebola virus caused her to contract meningitis.
A statement was made that 39-year-old Cafferkey was “no longer infectious,” was “well enough to return to Scotland,” and will continue her treatment at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow.
The statement also read: “We can confirm that Pauline Cafferkey was transferred back to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital to complete her hospital treatment. Her condition is stable. All the appropriate arrangements for Pauline’s admission to the hospital and continued treatment have been followed.”
Cafferkey was working in an Ebola treatment center in Sierra Leone when she contracted the virus. After she returned to the U.K. and was found to have been infected, she spent almost a month in isolation at Royal Free Hospital in London. She apparently made a full recovery, and was released, and even returned to work in March. Ebola was found to be still active inside her body, and caused Cafferkey to contract meningitis.
Despite becoming “critically ill,” Cafferkey improved, and has is said to have beaten Ebola “for a second time.”
Researchers state that between 1976 and 2012, Ebola only claimed somewhere around 1,600 lives, a far cry from the year span of the most recent outbreak.
“If you look at what happened in this global catastrophe, it was completely preventable,” said Ashish Jha, who is a practicing physician of internal medicine in the VA Boston Healthcare System, and director of the Harvard Global Health Institute. “We knew something like this was going to happen, we had systems in place to prevent it, and they all failed.”
[Featured image courtesy of Cooper Neill for Getty Images]