Officials hope they are nearing the end of the epidemic in West Africa.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said Wednesday that no new cases of Ebola were reported in Guinea, making last week the first week that no Ebola-affected countries in West Africa reported a case.
According to a story on nbcnews.com, that doesn’t mean there are no cases in West Africa, just that no new ones have been reported or detected.
With Liberia and Sierra Leone being declared free of the virus, the hope is that Guinea will soon follow and the countdown to the end of the epidemic is near at hand. Ebola has caused more than 28,000 people in the area to become ill and has caused more than 11,000 deaths.
The country had reported four cases over the last four weeks, and the WHO says health care workers are monitoring all their contacts for signs of the disease. The organization is following 69 contacts, that will complete the 21-day follow-up period on November 14.
The concern is that of the 69 contacts, 60 are considered high risk and one contact has been lost, so there is a risk of more cases among the registered contacts as well as contacts the organization is unable to track.
The WHO has representatives in all three countries looking for signs of the disease, and they have received hundreds of alerts, but none of them have turned out to be actual cases of Ebola.
The organization is using what is called a ring vaccination strategy in Guinea, in that rings of contacts and contacts of contacts are being vaccinated to prevent the spread of the disease.
Still, it will be hard to say definitely when that area is completely Ebola free. The country of Liberia was pronounced Ebola-free in May of this year, but another case was documented later in June.
Officials are not sure how the virus got started in the area, so it is difficult to say it won’t start up again from the same or a similar source.
So the struggle goes on, and new vaccines are being field tested in an effort to control or eradicate this dreaded disease.