Since the first Nigerian case was reported, fears had been mounting that if the outbreak were to spread in Lagos, the rest of the continent and beyond would be severe danger given the number of Nigerian people living all over the world. But the country reported a total of 19 cases and seven deaths from the disease, offering a model the WHO says can be applied in other countries.
“If a country like Nigeria, hampered by serious security problems, can do this—that is, make significant progress toward interrupting polio transmission, eradicate guinea-worm disease and contain Ebola, all at the same time—any country in the world experiencing an imported case can hold onward transmission to just a handful of cases,” WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan said in a released statement.
On Friday, the WHO declared Senegal, which had reported only one case since Aug. 29, free of Ebola virus transmission because it had been 42 days since the patient's last contact completed the 21-day monitoring period.
In both countries, rapid mobilization and leadership from the government, which was quick to allocate needed funding toward the response effort, contributed to their success, according to the WHO. In Nigeria, the government conducted screenings of all arriving and departing travelers by air and by sea in Lagos and Rivers State, averaging more than 16,000 a day.
Also, officials said the potential for mass hysteria was relieved by an aggressive media campaign of radio messages and door-to door explaining protective measures, levels of risk and the actions being taken.
Meanwhile, the outbreak continues to spread across Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, where the vast majority of infected cases and deaths have emanated. As of Oct. 15, there have been more than 9,200 cases and more than 4,500 deaths since March, according to the latest figures from the WHO.
In the U.S. on Monday, health officials in Texas announced that 43 individuals who had been identified as having contact with Duncan and were being monitored for potentially having the disease were cleared by passing the 21-day mark for possible infection.
“Epidemiologists have worked around the clock to call and visit people who may have had any exposure, to make sure they were asymptomatic and doing well,” said Dr. David Lakey, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services in a released statement. “I'm happy we can tell people they are free and clear of monitoring. It provides a measure of relief and reassurance.”
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