Exactly 42 days after the virus was first diagnosed in the United States, the country now appears to be completely Ebola free.
The New York Times reported Monday that Bellevue Hospital plans to release Craig Spencer, the doctor who contracted Ebola while treating patients in West Africa, on Tuesday morning. While it's not explicitly stated in the article, his release suggests that Spencer, who was diagnosed with the disease on Oct. 30, is now cured of Ebola.
The World Health Organization's official doesn't declare a country cleared of Ebola until it has had no new cases for six weeks. That will be sometime in December. But at least at this moment, there do not appear to to be any known cases of the disease anywhere in the country.
This is not especially surprising. Experts have always expected that the robust American health care system would handle Ebola better than weaker public health infrastructure in places like Sierra Leone — where the death toll continues to mount.
We've learned from this Ebola outbreak that patients treated in the United States have much higher survival rates. They also appear to infect fewer new patients; of the 9 people treated in the United States only one, Thomas Duncan, transmitted the disease.
This does not, however, mean that the Ebola outbreak is anywhere near over. Ebola has killed more than 4,800 people this year, with the highest number of deaths occurring in September and October.
"Case incidence is declining in some districts in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, while
steep rises persist in other districts," the World Health Organization wrote in its most recent situation report, dated Nov. 7. In West Africa, the fight against Ebola remains very active, and very necessary.