The Slatest

Ebola Could Be Contained—or Become “Permanent Feature of Life” in Africa, WHO Says

A student in Abuja, Nigeria is instructed in the use of hand sanitizer.


A new World Health Organization report published in the New England Journal of Medicine says that, if proper control measures are taken, the Ebola outbreak in West Africa can be contained and its spread to new victims halted. But WHO director Christopher Dye says this result is not guaranteed. From Reuters:

… if control efforts are only partly successful, Ebola viral disease in the human population could become “a permanent feature of life in West Africa”, Dye said.

“The alternative possibility that we’re talking about is that the epidemic simply rumbles on as it has for the last few months for the next few years, on the order of years, rather than months.

“Under those circumstances, the fear is that Ebola will be more or less a permanent feature of the human population. Of course it could be extinguished later on.”

With large-scale responses from the United Nations and United States underway, there have been some positive developments in affected countries: Nigeria and Senegal, for example, have not reported any new cases in the last three weeks. Said Dye: “It is reassuring in many ways that a disease like Ebola can enter a city of 20 million, namely Lagos, and we are able to stop transmission, or rather the people of Nigeria are able to stop transmission.” But the disease is still far from being controlled in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, where the epidemic has been most destructive.