Ebola Outbreak Update
- For the first time since June 29, 2014, there have been fewer than 100 new confirmed cases reported in a week in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.
- On January 18, 2015, Malian authorities and the WHO announced the end of the outbreak of Ebola in Mali. Forty-two days have elapsed since the last Ebola case tested negative in laboratory tests on December 6, 2014. (Source: Center for Disease Control)
In spite of this fact, thousands of potential visitors to Africa altered their plans. Most do not realize the vast size of Africa (you can put Europe, India, China and the US within its borders). Travel between Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia is so difficult, that the rest of Africa was never at high risk.
The speed with which an outbreak grows depends on how many additional people are infected by each infectious case and the time interval between infections. To put the current Ebola numbers in context, one person with Ebola will on average infect only 1.5 to 2.2 additional people. The relatively low number of people infected by a single case should make it easier to interrupt transmission. Further facilitating control is the fact that a person with Ebola is most infectious after the onset of signs and symptoms.
By contrast, a person with measles is infectious for several days before they become sick. And a person with measles will on average infect 12 to 18 additional people. In 2014, 594 measles cases were reported in the United States through September 29th, the most in two decades.
Regardless of the misunderstanding about Ebola in 2014, the good news is that all signs point towards the end of the crisis.