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WHO declares Ebola over in Senegal

WHO declares Ebola over in Senegal
A heath control tent at an air base near the Senegalese capital, Dakar. The World Health Organization has declared the Ebola outbreak over in Senegal, praising the country's vigilance. (Seyllou / AFP/Getty Images)

The World Health Organization has declared the Ebola outbreak over in Senegal, saying the country’s response is a good example of what to do when faced with an imported case of the deadly disease.

Senegal had only one patient, a man who contracted the virus in neighboring Guinea and arrived in the West African country by road in August.

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The Senegalese government reacted quickly, identifying and monitoring 74 people who had close contact with the man, testing all suspected cases, stepping up surveillance at the country's many entry points and conducting nationwide public awareness campaigns, the WHO said in a statement Friday.

The WHO dispatched a team of epidemiologists to work with the Senegalese Ministry of Health, which also received assistance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the international aid agency Doctors Without Borders.

Testing confirmed that the patient was free of Ebola on Sept.  5, and he returned to Guinea soon after.

Senegal has now gone 42 days – twice the maximum known incubation period of the Ebola virus – without new cases being detected, the WHO said. But it cautioned that the country's geographic location makes it vulnerable to additional imported cases.

The world's largest outbreak of Ebola continues to spread in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, the hardest-hit countries. Cases have also been reported in the United States, Spain and Nigeria.

More than 4,500 people have died out of 9,216 suspected and confirmed cases of Ebola, according to figures released Friday by the WHO.

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