Ebola Epidemic on the Wane?

The number of reported cases is dropping in West Africa, World Health Organization officials report.

Jan 26, 2015
Jenny Rood

CDC, CYNTHIA GOLDSMITHThe number of new cases of Ebola, deemed a “threat to international peace and security” in September, has consistently fallen during the past month in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone—the three hardest-hit countries—the World Health Organization (WHO) reported last week (January 23). There were only eight new cases in Liberia in the week to January 18, while in Sierra Leone 118 new cases were reported that week, down from 284 cases two weeks before. As a result, Sierra Leonean President Ernest Bai Koroma announced he would lift travel restrictions in the country.

The drop represents a “really substantial reduction” in new cases of the disease that has claimed over 8,600 lives since the outbreak began in December 2013, WHO Assistant Director General Bruce Aylward told reporters last week. Liberia had over 300 cases per week in August and September.

Liberian Deputy Health Minister Tolbert Nyenswah told Reuters that there were only five active cases in his country as of January 23. “It means that we are going down to zero,” Nyenswah said. However, less than a third of the necessary international funding for the next six months of the battle has been pledged. “The things that have been driving the reduction so far will not get us to zero,” added Aylward.