(RxWiki News) Recent reports suggest that the new Ebola case rate in Liberia, one of the hardest-hit countries in the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, may be slowing. But health officials remain cautious about relaxing the fight against the virus.
Despite concerns that the outbreak is far from contained, the news bodes well for concerns about an outbreak in the US.
With a few cases and one death from Ebola in the US, many have raised concerns about a US outbreak. But health officials say focusing on the US isn't the best way to prevent an outbreak on US soil.
Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said "The best way to protect us is to stop the epidemic in Africa," according to ABC news.
While health experts, politicians and the public have debated whether the US should close its borders or quarantine health workers returning from West Africa, some organizations have ramped up their efforts to fight the outbreak in West Africa.
The World Bank Group announced Oct. 30 that it would add $100 million more to its funding of the Ebola crisis response in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. Those countries have seen the most Ebola cases and deaths in the current outbreak. That brings funding from the World Bank to more than $500 million, according to a press release.
The Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy reports that, despite somewhat unclear reports and data, the Ebola crisis in Liberia appears to be improving. Reports have noted more empty Ebola treatment beds and fewer burials.
The reports appear to be valid, said Bruce Aylward, MD, assistant director-general for the World Health Organization, but he remains "cautiously optimistic." Dr. Aylward said he hopes the news doesn't encourage those fighting the outbreak to dial back their efforts.
"The danger now is that we move, instead of a steady downward trend that gets us down to zero, that we end up with a oscillating pattern where the disease starts going up and down and areas start getting re-infected, so, again, what gets the heat out of this thing and slows us down isn't necessarily what is going to get us down to zero," Dr. Aylward said in a media briefing in Geneva, Switzerland.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the current Ebola outbreak has killed nearly 5,000 people — more than half of whom were in Liberia, according to CNN. Suspected cases are nearing 14,000. Lab-confirmed cases are just below 8,000.
The Ebola virus can cause the often fatal Ebola virus disease. The disease is marked by high fever, nausea, vomiting and unexplained bleeding. The virus can only be transferred through the bodily fluids of an infected person. Ebola is not airborne. Patients are only contagious when they are showing symptoms.