Global perspective Human stories

Ebola outbreak in southern Sudan is over, UN health agency announces

Ebola outbreak in southern Sudan is over, UN health agency announces

Ebola virus
Thanks to the effective coordination among national and international health officials, the United Nations today declared the contagious and deadly Ebola virus outbreak in southern Sudan over.

No new cases have been reported in the past 42 days, twice the maximum incubation time for the four known species of Ebola, according to the UN World Health Organization (WHO). It was the fifth epidemic diagnosed since 2000.

“The rapid containment of this outbreak was a tremendous success for the health authorities, WHO, and the international community involved in the control operations,” said Dr. Abdullah Ahmed, head of the WHO office in southern Sudan and coordinator of the medical and community responses in Yambio County where cases emerged.

Seven people died out of the 17 people infected with the haemorrhagic fever. The disease is transmitted by direct contact with any bodily fluids of infected persons.

Local community advocates relayed vital messages about disease prevention and care to the people in and around Yambio, WHO said.

"Once the people of Yambio were convinced of the very real risks Ebola posed and they understood what they could do to protect themselves and their families the outbreak response was greatly accelerated," said Ms Asiya Odugleh from the WHO Mediterranean Centre for Vulnerability Reduction, located in Tunisia, who assisted the county's social mobilization team.

A low fence built at an isolation ward at Yambio Hospital allowed patients to be effectively isolated, yet able to chat with family and friends from a safe distance. According to WHO, such simple disease control measures made it easier for families to accept the isolation of their relatives.

The Yambio experience showed the value of rapid outbreak detection, effective local responses, active community involvement and the coordination of specialized help from international agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to contain the spread of the virus, WHO said.