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Signs of progress in Ebola outbreak

Amidst the continuing spread of Ebola in West Africa, there are small signs of progress. According to a press release from the World Health Organization (WHO) on Aug. 19, Nigeria appear to be containing the outbreak in its country, and patients are being discharged after recovering from the disease. Some 26 villages in Guinea have agreed to allow public health workers to enter and assist with illnesses. They have been refusing to allow outsiders to enter until this point.

Local residents listen as UNICEF health workers speak about Ebola prevention on August 18, 2014 in New Kru Town, Liberia.
Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

The latest data from the WHO on the outbreak is through Aug. 16. There have been 2,240 confirmed, probable or suspected Ebola cases reported through that date. The death toll from the viral illness stands at 1,229.

The governments of Sierra Leone and Liberia have implemented quarantine zones in their country, including some cities or parts of cities, in an effort to contain the spread of Ebola. The WHO believes that at least one million people live in these zones. The WHO is working with the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to ensure delivery of food and other necessities to the residents in these zones.

An Aug. 19 piece in the Leadership shows how rapidly the situation is changing in the region, and in Nigeria. The newspaper reports that five of those in contact with Patrick Sawyer have been released from isolation as disease-free. Two additional Ebola cases in Lagos, among Sawyer's contacts, have been diagnosed and there is a potential case in the northern Kaduna State. The current status of the outbreak seems to be: four dead, including Sawyer, five released from isolation, five remaining in isolation and a potential Ebola case in Kaduna.

On August 18, WHO urged the four affected nations to monitor departing airline passengers for signs of an illness. Such exit screening is intended to prevent patients with signs and symptoms of Ebola from traveling, and spreading the disease. It is believed that Patrick Sawyer was visibly ill when he boarded his flight to Lagos in Liberia.

The latest detailed report from Liberia on its Ebola epidemic is through Aug. 15. It reports that 95 health care workers have contracted the illness. Of that number, 44 have died. There are, as of Aug. 17, 207 patients in isolation or in treatment across the country.