According to a press release this morning from the World Health Organization (WHO), the African country of Senegal has effectively ended the transmission of Ebola within its borders:
The World Health Organization (WHO) will declare the end of the outbreak of Ebola virus in Senegal today after the after active surveillance found the country to be free of the disease.
Senegal had one patient who was confirmed to have Ebola but he recovered and appears not to have infected anyone else.
WHO says that waiting for 42 days from the time when the last person with high risk exposure tests negative for the virus gives sufficient confidence to declare an outbreak over.
How did Senegal manage this feat, despite being so close to Ebola hot spots like Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea? It closed off its borders to travelers from high-risk Ebola countries. According to International SOS, an international company which helps countries manage travel-related health and security risks, Senegal closed its land borders and restricted air entry back in August:
Senegal on 21 August closed its land border with Guinea, while the country’s sea and air borders will also be closed to vessels and aircraft from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Senegal has banned flights from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Now, some people might look at this and say, “Big deal. There was only one case in Senegal in the first place. Keeping one case from transmitting the disease isn’t all that hard.”
Maybe. But it’s a feat that the United States failed to achieve, and the U.S. doesn’t even have to worry, like Senegal does, about having a land border with a country like Guinea, where a full-blown Ebola outbreak was declared back in March.
Senegal had 1 Ebola case, zero transmissions, zero deaths. Their outbreak is over. The U.S., not so much…
— Abby D. Phillip (@abbydphillip) October 17, 2014
Senegal, however, isn’t the only African country to have successfully battled the Ebola epidemic. If no new cases are identified in Nigeria, WHO plans to declare that country Ebola free on Monday, October 20. And how did Nigeria respond to the epidemic? It also implemented selective air travel bans according to the Wall Street Journal:
Nigeria and Ivory Coast on Monday restricted flights from Ebola-infected countries, underscoring fears of the virus in West Africa spreading globally by air travel.
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority suspended Gambia Bird Airlines Ltd. until it “put in place acceptable and satisfactory measures to contain the spread of Ebola virus,” according to a letter seen by The Wall Street Journal. There have been no recorded cases of Ebola in Gambia, the tiny West African nation where the airline is based. But the airline does fly to Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia—the three countries bearing the brunt of an Ebola outbreak. The airline didn’t return calls seeking comment.
Meanwhile, the White House continues to oppose Ebola-related travel bans in the U.S.