Ebola quarantines end for 43 people in Dallas
DALLAS, TX – Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins announced Monday that 43 people who had contact with Ebola victim Thomas Eric Duncan and were quarantined are now officially in the clear after having not developed any symptoms during the 21 days that the virus can incubate. Those 21 days are over, Jenkins said, adding that one more person will be officially cleared later Monday because he came into contact with Duncan hours after the others. Four other people are close to finishing their 21-day isolation, he said.
While Ebola cases keep spiraling out of control in the three West African countries, there are glimmers of hope elsewhere in the world.
Nigeria was declared Ebola-free Monday, following an announcement that Senegal is now rid of the virus.
A nurse’s aide in Spain has also beaten Ebola after spending weeks hospitalized with the disease.
And the fiancée of the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the United States ends her quarantine period, meaning she almost certainly doesn’t have the virus — and isn’t a risk to the Dallas community.
But more complications remain. Here’s the latest on the Ebola crisis around the world:
Nigeria: Ebola is gone
Nigeria was thrust in the Ebola spotlight in July after an infected air traveler introduced the virus to Lagos. The case spurred fears that the disease would spread across the city of 21 million and throughout Africa’s most populous country.
In the end, Nigeria confirmed 19 Ebola cases, including seven deaths.
The World Health Organization said an aggressive government response and effective contact tracing helped keep the virus in check.
“This is a spectacular success story that shows that Ebola can be contained,” WHO said Monday.
“Such a story can help the many other developing countries that are deeply worried by the prospect of an imported Ebola case,” it said. “Many wealthy countries, with outstanding health systems, may have something to learn as well.”
Nigerian health officials reached 100% of known contacts in Lagos and 99.8% at the second outbreak site in Port Harcourt, WHO said.
And unlike in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone — the combined epicenter of the outbreak — all identified contacts in Nigeria were physically monitored every day for 21 days, the agency said.
The few who tried to escape the monitoring system were tracked down and returned to finish their required monitoring period.
For WHO to declare an Ebola outbreak over, a country must pass 42 days with active surveillance in place, supported by good diagnostic capacity, and with no new cases detected, the agency said.
The 42-day period is also twice the maximum incubation period for Ebola.
United States: Texas woman ends quarantine
More than a week after her fiancé died of Ebola — the first such death in the United States — Louise Troh will be able to face the public again.
Monday marks 21 days after her last contact with Thomas Eric Duncan, who died in a Dallas hospital.
“We are so happy this is coming to an end, and we are so grateful that none of us has shown any sign of illness,” Troh said in a statement Sunday.
“We have lost so much, but we have our lives and we have our faith in God, which always gives us hope.”
She’s not the only who will be able to return to public life.
The monitoring period for 48 people who came in contact with Duncan ended at midnight, according to Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, who is overseeing response efforts in Dallas.
“Thankfully they are all asymptomatic, and it looks like none of them will get Ebola,” Jenkins said.
United States: Rapid response team planned
The U.S. military is forming a 30-person “quick-strike team” to provide direct treatment to Ebola patients inside the country, a Defense Department official told CNN’s Barbara Starr on Sunday.
The team must be able to deploy within 72 hours at any time over the next month, the official said.
The Department of Health and Human Services requested the military team, and the Pentagon has given verbal approval, the official said.
The team will include five doctors, 20 nurses and five trainers, Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said in a statement.
United States: Cruise ship passenger cleared
A lab supervisor from the hospital where Duncan died returned to Texas on a cruise ship and did not have symptoms of Ebola.
Her presence alone on the cruise ship caused a minor Ebola scare.
Although she wasn’t ill, the woman voluntarily isolated herself in her cabin, the Galveston County health officials said. She and a travel partner were allowed to disembark.
Spain: Nurse’s aide free of Ebola
Teresa Romero Ramos, who had contracted Ebola after caring for a patient with the deadly disease, is now free of the virus, Spain’s Special Ebola Committee said Sunday.
A third test came back negative after two earlier tests showed the levels of Ebola in her system were almost nil. Romero has recovered enough to produce antibodies, virus expert Luis Enjuanes told CNN.
But she’ll stay in the hospital for days, possibly a few weeks, to recover, Enjuanes said.
West Africa: Situation remains dire
But all the positive news doesn’t dent the epidemic still spreading in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. WHO said those countries still have “widespread and intense transmission.”
More than 4,500 people have died from Ebola in West Africa. Many patients lack adequate health care. Orphans of victims are often abandoned, their relatives terrified of taking them in.
And the situation could get worse before it gets better.