Dozens of Americans Clear Ebola Monitoring Period


Progress in the fight against an Ebola outbreak has been made on 2 fronts.

Officials in Texas today announced that 43 individuals who had been under observation for the Ebola virus have officially cleared the 21-day monitoring period.

The individuals came into direct contact with Ebola index patient Thomas Eric Duncan, who died from the virus on October 8, 2014, after traveling to Texas from Liberia. An additional 5 individuals are expected to clear the monitoring period soon, according to Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins.

"Thankfully, they are all asymptomatic, and it looks like none of them will get Ebola," Jenkins said in a CNN report.

Up to 120 additional individuals are still being monitored as a result of their contact with Duncan and 2 nurses who tested positive for the virus after caring for him.

Amber Vinson, 29, is reported to be in stable condition after being transferred to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta for additional treatment. Nina Pham, 26, was transferred to a National Institutes of Health facility in Maryland last week for treatment, where her condition has reportedly improved.

Additionally, an employee of Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital who may have been in contact with clinical specimens collected from Duncan was quarantined aboard a cruise ship in Belize last week. The employee had left the country prior to being notified of the updated US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention requirements for active monitoring, as protocol at the time only required self-monitoring.

The employee is also expected to clear the monitoring period soon.

In addition to progress made in the fight against an Ebola outbreak in the United States, 2 African nations have announced they are now free of the virus. Senegal, which reported only 1 Ebola case with no related deaths, and Nigeria, which had 20 cases of the virus with 8 deaths, successfully stopped transmission of Ebola, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The WHO commended the actions taken by both governments against the virus.

"This is a spectacular success story that shows that Ebola can be contained," the WHO said today in a statement regarding Nigeria. "Such a story can help the many other developing countries that are deeply worried by the prospect of an imported Ebola case. Many wealthy countries with outstanding health systems may have something to learn, as well."

The response plan in Senegal included the identification and monitoring of 74 close contacts with the infected patient, rapid testing of all suspected cases, ramped-up surveillance efforts at the country’s various entry points, and a public awareness campaign through the nation. The country also maintained a high level of active case monitoring for 42 days, which is twice the maximum incubation period for the detection of potential unreported cases of infection.

Despite these success stories, the situation in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea remains dire. The latest estimates place the confirmed and suspected case count at nearly 9000 individuals, with approximately 4500 fatalities.

In light of the ongoing crisis in West Africa, the WHO stated that surrounding countries must remain vigilant.

“While the outbreak is now officially over, Senegal’s geographical position makes the country vulnerable to additional imported cases of Ebola virus disease,” the WHO said.

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