Ebola in West Africa — is it finished?

After more than 28,000 cases and approximately 11–12,000 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, and after herculean efforts to control the disease and save lives, the end of the largest ever epidemic of Ebola may be near. Only Guinea has reported new cases, about 3 per week. Because there have been no further new cases in Sierra Leone for more than 42 days (twice the incubation period for the disease), the World Health Organization declared Sierra Leone Ebola-free as of November 7th. Liberia was declared free from Ebola in early September this year.

There has never been a need for any traveller to avoid travelling to these countries during this epidemic. Based on the way this virus is transmitted, the risk of exposure for the general traveller was and is very low. There are some exceptions, however. Health care workers caring for sick patients with Ebola, or family members providing direct care for infected persons, or persons helping during unsafe burial rituals are at much higher risk of becoming infected.