Forty-two days have now passed since the last contact of Senegal’s single confirmed case of Ebola virus disease completed the requisite 21-day monitoring period, under medical supervision, developed no symptoms, and tested negative for the virus.
WHO officially declares Senegal free of Ebola virus transmission.
The outbreak in Senegal was announced on 29 August, when a case of Ebola virus disease was confirmed in a young man who had traveled to Dakar, by road, from Guinea, where he had had direct contact with an Ebola patient.
Dakar was in a fortunate position: it is home to a world-class Senegalese foundation, the Pasteur Institute and its laboratory. The laboratory is fully approved by WHO to test quickly and reliably for viral hemorrhagic fevers, including a biosafety level IV pathogen like Ebola.
In addition, WHO treated the first case in Senegal as a public health emergency, and responded accordingly.
The initial investigation of the index cases revealed multiple opportunities for high-risk exposures in the outskirts of Dakar, where the patient initially stayed with relatives.
A total of 74 close contacts were identified and rigorously monitored twice daily. Around five of these contacts developed non-specific influenza-like symptoms. Testing was prompt and reliable; all results were negative. Confidence grew with each passing day.
On 5 September, just 8 days after the case was confirmed, laboratory samples from the index case tested negative, indicating a rapid and remarkable recovery. The fully recovered young man returned to his native Guinea on 18 September.
Despite this good news, Senegal maintained a high level of vigilance for possible “hidden” pockets of infection that would have no doubt reached visibility during the long 42-day countdown that ends today. Ebola is too big a disease to stay hidden for that long.
Senegal defeated the disease. The Ebola virus is gone – for now – from its territory.
If the active surveillance for new cases that is currently in place continues, and no new cases are detected, WHO will declare the end of the outbreak of Ebola virus disease in Nigeria on Monday, Oct. 20.