After three months and 33 deaths, the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo has been declared by the World Health Organization to have come to an end. The loss of 33 lives to the disease is absolutely tragic, but comes close to a miracle when you stop to consider the fact that the last time Ebola broke in West Africa, more than 11,000 people died. The high number of deaths in that instance was due to the fact that The WHO (not the one with Roger Daltrey,) was slow to react to the epidemic last time around, moving slowly to deploy medical resources to the regions that needed it the most. Additionally, no vaccine designed to fight the Ebola virus was put into play until near the end of the outbreak.
That wasn’t the case this time.
After being tongue lashed for dragging their ass during the last outbreak, The WHO sent specialists to Congo as soon as a handful of cases of Ebola were confirmed, back in May.
From the New York Times:
Even though Congo is familiar with Ebola — this was the country’s ninth outbreak since the disease first appeared in 1976 — more than 350 support personnel were deployed there. They included vaccinators from Guinea, where a novel Ebola vaccine was first field-tested.
The Congo outbreak marked the first in which an Ebola vaccine was readily available. In addition to giving injections to all front-line health care workers, experts used “ring vaccination” to protect all contacts of each person with the disease. More than 3,300 people were vaccinated.
A number of additional experimental treatments were approved for use in the field during the course of the outbreak. But the use of vaccines worked so well that they were unneeded. It’s a fabulous ending to a scenario, given the fact that the outbreak occurred in a transit hub, that could have ended a whole lot worse.