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Ebola-Free: Sierra Leone Declared Free of That Disease

Nov 16, 2015 01:10 PM EST
Preparing to enter an Ebola treatment unit
The West African country of Sierra Leone, population about 6 million, has been declared Ebola-free.
(Photo : Athalia Christie and CDC Global)

Sierra Leone, a country roughly the size of South Carolina with a population of about 6 million, was recently declared free of the Ebola virus by the World Heath Organization (WHO), according to a release. The nation is on Africa's west coast, between Guinea and Liberia. 

WHO made the declaration after noting that 42 days have passed since the last person in the nation previously confirmed to have the Ebola virus tested negative in a blood test, confirmed the release.

"Since Sierra Leone recorded the first Ebola case in May 2014, a total number of 8,704 people were infected and 3,589 have died, 221 of them healthcare workers, all of whom we remember on this day," Dr. Anders Nordström, with WHO in Sierra Leone, said in a statement.

At this point, a 90-day surveillance period begins for Sierra Leone, running until February 5, 2016. WHO will stay in-country to keep an eye on things during that time. The agency noted that in this phase, it is critical to detect early any possible new cases of the disease, said the statement.

In the release, WHO officials noted that they commend Sierra Leone's government and people for achieving this, and say that it was reached via very hard work and commitment.

Despite an alarming increase in Ebola cases in Sierra Leone a year ago, in September and October 2014, increasing treatment facilities and arranging safe and respectful burial teams--as well as working with communities--helped to stop Ebola, noted the release.

The WHO release also said that about 4,000 Ebola survivors are now left with ongoing health problems, and they will need continued medical care and social support. 

If you'd like to learn more about the current status of Ebola cases in several countries, go here. 

For more great nature science stories and general news, please visit our sister site, Headlines and Global News (HNGN).

-Follow Catherine on Twitter @TreesWhales

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