Ebola is no longer an “extraordinary” health event, the World Health Organisation has said.
The disease that killed more than 11,000 people in West Africa during its most recent outbreak doesn’t pose as much of a threat as it once did, and the risk of it spreading around the world is low, a committee formed by the health group concluded.
The disease was declared an international emergency in August 2014, and described at the time as a “serious” threat other countries. Members of the Emergency Committee, created to monitor the situation in the continent, agreed that the situation in West Africa now “no longer constitutes” a public health emergency of international concern.
“Ebola transmission in West Africa no longer constitutes an extraordinary event, that the risk of international spread is now low, and that countries currently have the capacity to respond rapidly to new virus emergences,” the panel said in its latest statement.
The declaration means that the disease isn’t believed to be a threat to those countries outside of West Africa. Committee members were told by officials from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone said that new cases in the countries had not been reported for months, although there were still several small clusters of cases.
The committee reported: “All three countries have now completed the 42 day observation period and additional 90 day enhanced surveillance period since their last case that was linked to the original chain of transmission twice tested negative.” Any travel restrictions that are still in place to the three countries should also be lifted, it said.
One recent study from the US National Institutes of Health has shown that most people who survive Ebola will have long-termhealth problems. Memory loss, depressive symptoms and weakness had been developed by survivors in Liberia.
WIRED has travelled to Liberia to look at, and document the experiences of those suffering from ‘post-Ebola syndrome’. Those suffering from repercussions of the virus have experienced joint pains, headaches, and some rare reports said some survivors had suddenly died.
Daniel Bausch, a tropical-disease expert at Tulane University told WIRED that the international reaction to the disease had died down. “I think it is largely true that the international community felt that once we had stemmed transmission, our job was pretty much done,” he said.
While countries around the world shouldn’t be worried about Ebola transmissions the WHO insists that international support is still needed: expanding diagnostic labs; monitoring of the virus; vaccination capacity; and any further clinical care may be required.
As of March 2016 there have been 28,639 cases of Ebola reported and 13,316 deaths, with more than 10,000 people surviving the virus.