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Nigeria is Ebola-Free, Officials Report

Update Date: Oct 20, 2014 09:34 AM EDT
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The Ebola epidemic, which started earlier this year, has mainly affected three West African countries, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. However, cases have shown up in the neighboring countries of Nigeria and Senegal as well as across the world in the United States. After close monitoring of the virus, officials are reporting that Nigeria is now Ebola-free.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Nigeria has not confirmed a single new case of Ebola for more than six weeks while the number continues to rise in the other countries. The Ebola epidemic in Nigeria lasted from July through to Sept 8.

"Nigeria is now free of Ebola," representative from the WHO, Rui Gama, said during a news conference held at the capital Abuja according to Reuters. "This is a spectacular success story...it shows that Ebola can be contained but we must be clear that we have only won a battle. The war will only end when West Africa is also declared free of Ebola."

Experts stated that the way Nigeria handled the cases was ideal. The officials were quick to declare Ebola a public health emergency and addressed the cases aggressively. Within Nigeria, there were a total of 20 cases with eight deaths.

"Nigeria acted quickly and early and on a large scale," John Vertefeuille, with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said Nigeria took the right steps to stop it told Agence France-Presse. "They acted aggressively, especially in terms of contact-tracing."

Samuel Matoka, IFRC Ebola operations manager for Lagos, added, "Nigeria was not really prepared for the outbreak, but the swift response from the federal government, state governments (and) international organizations ... was essential. The swiftness and fastness of the reaction from all parties, helped to contain Ebola in Nigeria."

Nigeria joins Senegal, another West African country, on the list of Ebola-free nations. Senegal dealt with one confirmed case of Ebola. The patient, who brought the virus into the country from Guinea, had come into contact with at least 70 people. The government was swift in contacting and testing these people. On Sept.5, after no new cases showed up, the WHO declared Senegal an Ebola-free nation.

The WHO noted that Nigeria was able to control the situation because of funding, quick action and aid from the WHO, the CDC and Doctors Without Borders. Nigeria also had more available resources when compared to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

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