The battle against the largest Ebola outbreak in history suffered a setback in Sierra Leone in early February when infected fishermen came ashore and spread the virus, according to a Feb. 28 New York Times report.
The fishermen went to port after Sierra Leone saw dramatic decreases in its number of reported Ebola cases. The West African nation had eased travel restrictions and other responses prior to the fishermen’s arrival.
Despite the efforts of volunteers to contain the sick fishermen, the virus jumped quarantine lines, sickening several people and killing others. About two dozen people have been infected in the areas where the fishermen arrived after cutting short their excursion by two weeks due to illness.
“We worked so hard. It is a shame to all of us,” said Emmanuel Conteh, an Ebola response coordinator in a rural district quoted in the New York Times’ article.
In Liberia, the Ebola antibody cocktail ZMapp is about to be tested in randomized trials on as many as 200 infected patient volunteers. According to the Forbes website, “volunteers will primarily be drawn from adults and children of any age in Liberia who have been infected with the Ebola virus.”
The fight against Ebola has seen its greatest success in Liberia. The rate of confirmed cases dropped to a handful each week after peaking in September at the height of the outbreak.
President Barack Obama dispatched 3,000 United States military personnel to Liberia. Several treatment centers were erected in and around Monrovia, including two deployable field hospitals with Ebola isolation units from BLU-MED Response Systems®.
Ebola killed more than 4,000 people in Liberia since the outbreak began. Currently, 13 of 15 districts in the country have reported no new Ebola cases in more than 21 days, the infection’s incubation period.
“I think we’re going to win very soon,” Liberian Dr. Mosoka Fallah told BBC Africa.
The Ebola outbreak has killed almost 10,000 people and infected more than 23,000 in a little more than a year.
In Guinea, health officials admitted to botching more than 20 Ebola blood tests in January and February, leading to the release of at least four infected patients. According to Reuters UK, five health experts with knowledge of the situation said there were as many as 52 botched tests at two different medical centers.