After being around for over two years, becoming one of the worst outbreaks of the pathogen in human history, the Ebola outbreak is finally over according to WHO, with Liberia preparing to declare itself completely clear of the virus. The epidemic started back in December 2013 in southern Guinea and it caused chaos across west Africa, destroying everything in its wake.
While at its peak, Ebola caused numerous dead bodies to pile up in the streets of the most infected regions like the capital cities of Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia. Diagnostics surfaced each week, sometimes even marked at 100 weekly cases, taking the lives of over 11,000 people and infecting more than 29,000 others according to officially released numbers. But these statistics may not be entirely true, with experts claiming that the death toll released is completely underestimated.
In order for a country to be declared free of a virus, the last diagnosed patient must start a 42-day period in which no other case is found. This time period is twice the incubation time of Ebola and is marked as such in order to provide a more conclusive result in regards to the pathogen’s spread.
Liberia was one of the regions which felt the brunt of the force created by Ebola the most, with 4,800 deaths. The first attempt at declaring the state free was back in May 2015, but another case resurfaced in a relatively short amount of time.
Another cluster of Ebola-stricken patients surfaced after a second preemptive declaration was made in September, leading to a surge in diagnostics once again. Fortunately, this is no longer the case, with the last two victims being released on the 3rd of December 2015, with no other diagnostics being declared up to this point.
But the population was not the only one massively affected by the pathogen’s outbreak, The economy was severely hit as well, with Sierra Leone currently suffering from a recession. Hopefully, with the help of investors and foreign powers, the region’s economy will be safely balanced.
Although this Ebola epidemic will be declared gone on Friday, this event shows us how unprepared we are if another epidemic will rise. Most hospitals in the regions affected by Ebola were forced to drive away patients constantly, even after more than doubling their capacity.
Unemployment surged even after the peak of the outbreak passed, schools remained shut down after the summer break and the black market economy almost entirely collapsed. Hospitals were affected as well, with the deaths of countless staff members eventually leading to several clinics shutting down.
The efforts from foreign powers came under threat as well, with three aid workers leaving west Africa in order to go back to their homes, leading to the first domestic cases of Ebola in Spain and US. But with the help in the form of thousands of troops from the West being sent on location, the spread was eventually quelled.
Even if the fact that the Ebola outbreak is finally over according to WHO is fortunate to say the least, teams are still working towards developing an effective vaccine or treatment against the deadly pathogen. The threat of an Ebola epidemic will always be present, even if the epidemic will be declared over, urging researchers and scientists to come with a viable solution towards halting a potential future outbreak.