The numbers are staggering. The Ebola epidemic that began in West Africa in early 2014 has so far claimed more than 11,000 lives out of 27,000 reported cases. Battling this scourge: more than 1,200 experts in various disciplines, dispatched to Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and surrounding countries by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and its partners.
What is the status of the epidemic today?
A multimedia report released by the CDC shows that the virus is contained in most of the region, although recent reports of new cases in Liberia confirms that the world cannot let down its guard.
CDC disease detectives continue their work in the three most affected countries: Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. On May 9, 2015, the World Health Organization declared the end of the Ebola outbreak in Liberia, and the number of new cases in Guinea and Sierra Leone has decreased dramatically.
CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. said the global response to the epidemic has been “unprecedented.”
Many CDC staffers deployed more than once and also volunteered to return as long as the epidemic persists. Thousands more worked on the response from the agency’s Atlanta headquarters, as well as in hospitals, labs and airports; other CDC campuses in the U.S., and CDC country offices around world.
“We will never forget either those impacted by this terrible epidemic or the heroic public health professionals who responded,” said Frieden.
The report highlights CDC employees’ work testing blood samples in field laboratories, traveling remote trails and rivers to track case contacts, teaching Ebola prevention strategies in local communities, protecting borders by screening and monitoring travelers, and strengthening hospital infection control practices.
Preparing for the next crisis
The CDC said the epidemic demonstrates the importance of worldwide preparation before the next health crisis, whenever or wherever it might be. The CDC’s Global Health Security Agenda calls for systems, policies and procedures to be in place around the world to prevent outbreaks as an essential step toward keeping the world safe and secure from global health threats. To support this goal, CDC has established country offices in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.