The rate of Ebola infection in West Africa is down sharply from the rapid spread of the epidemic’s early months.
But that downward trend isn’t enough progress for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “The fight against Ebola is far from over,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden as he marked the first anniversary of the agency’s response to the West African outbreak.
Reducing the infection rate to zero remains the goal. President Obama renewed his commitment to conquering Ebola April 8 as he received an update from advisers about the ongoing efforts against the disease in Guinea and Sierra Leone.
The Ebola initiative has contributed to a sharp plunge in Ebola cases in Sierra Leone. 2015 began with nearly 250 cases reported weekly, but the latest World Health Organization (WHO) account shows just 25 new cases at the end of March.
The struggle continues in Guinea, where weekly case counts have fluctuated in recent months. WHO reports just under 60 cases detected in the last week of March, a decline of over one-third from earlier in the month, but still far from zero.
Liberia has made the most progress in quelling the epidemic, without report of a single Ebola case since early March. Good care for the sick and rigorous education about disease prevention have helped return a semblance of normal life.
This Ebola outbreak has killed nearly 10,500 persons among more than 25,000 cases confirmed, probable or suspected.
Teams of CDC disease fighters have served almost 2,000 deployments in West Africa since the agency joined the effort. They, along with other international partners, worked with the governments of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone to:
- Establish emergency operations centers.
- Trace patient contacts in remote areas.
- Train more than 23,000 West African health care workers to improve infection control.
- Communicate methods of proper disease protection to publics.
CDC Ebola fighters show their commitment to fighting the epidemic in this video, “Getting to Zero”:
During a White House visit in February, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf thanked the U.S. military for supporting a rapid scale-up of resources and facilities necessary to combat the epidemic.