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There was an Ebola outbreak in this country — and we all missed it

While everyone was paying attention to COVID-19, Guinea dealt with a resurgence of the Ebola virus

SHARE There was an Ebola outbreak in this country — and we all missed it
Health workers wearing protective suits tend to an Ebola victim kept in an isolation tent in Beni, Democratic Republic of Congo.

In this Saturday, July 13, 2019, file photo, health workers wearing protective suits tend to an Ebola victim kept in an isolation tent in Beni, Democratic Republic of Congo.

Jerome Delay, Associated Press

As of June 19, Guinea officially announced the end of its second Ebola outbreak. The outbreak lasted four months, reports Al Jazeera. The country’s response drew on lessons from previous, deadlier outbreaks to issue a swift and effective response.

  • Between 2013 to 2016, Ebola outbreaks claimed the lives of more than 11,300 people predominantly in the Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, reports Science Alert.
  • Ebola causes a severe fever and, in serious cases, unstoppable bleeding and organ failure, says Reuters. The virus is transmitted by contact with infected bodily fluids.

Guinea’s short and well-controlled outbreak offers encouragement about the possibility of learning from previous health care crises to inform future responses.

What happened in Guinea’s Ebola outbreak?

In February, Guinea detected a cluster of Ebola cases in the Nzerekore region. The resurgence of cases was genetically linked to previous outbreaks in West Africa and likely emerged from a “persistent infection in a survivor,” says Science Alert.

  • The West African country recorded 16 confirmed cases of Ebola and suspects another seven unconfirmed cases, reports Science Alert.
  • The outbreak led to 12 fatalities, says Al Jazeera.

The virus did not spread outside of Guinea’s borders, reports Al Jazeera.

How was the outbreak contained?

Quickly after Guinea detected the outbreak, WHO sent 24,000 Ebola vaccines that were used to inoculate 11,000 people, says Al Jazeera. Guinea used a method called “ring vaccination” to strategically vaccinate all those who had been around infected individuals.

  • The Ebola vaccine protects with 100% efficacy, reports Al Jazeera.

The last Ebola patient was cured on May 8. Per international rules, Guinea had to go 42 days — or twice the length of Ebola’s incubation period — with no new cases before declaring an end to the epidemic, reports Science Alert.

  • WHO director of Africa Matshidiso Moeti said, per Reuters, that “although this Ebola outbreak flared up in the same area as the West Africa ... thanks to new innovations and lessons learned, Guinea managed to contain the virus.”

Will this happen again?

Although Guinea’s recent Ebola outbreak has been contained, Moeti urged the public to remain vigilant for resurgences of Ebola or COVID-19. According to WHO’s report online, the organization is helping to reinforce health care systems in the area to continue responding effectively to Ebola or other infectious diseases.

  • “We are getting faster, better and smarter at fighting Ebola,” Moeti said, per Reuters.