THE WORLDPOST

Finally, The Deadliest Ebola Outbreak Is Almost Over

After more than 11,000 deaths, there are only a few remaining cases.

30/12/2015 10:37 AM AEDT | Updated 27/12/2016 6:27 AM AEDT

The worst outbreak of Ebola on record that killed thousands and caused global panic in 2014 was largely brought under control this year.

Sierra Leone and Guinea, two of the countries at the center of the epidemic, were declared to be free of Ebola as 2015 drew to a close. Liberia, the site of the most Ebola deaths, is the only country where there recently have been new cases. Patients there were diagnosed with Ebola in November after the World Health Organization twice declared the country free of the virus.

Doctors, nurses and other officials combatting the outbreak succeeded at slowing the transmission of Ebola in 2015. This year, 3,411 people died from the disease and there were 8,430 cases, according to the WHO. The year before saw 7,889 fatal cases and 20,171 people infected.

The countries directly affected by the virus and the international community failed to quickly respond after the WHO officially identified the Ebola outbreak in March 2014. 

The epidemic highlighted a variety of systemic flaws in West Africa that experts said hindered the response from politicians and health organizations. The public health departments in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone operate with limited resources. But the tide turned by opening hospitals and treatment centers, educating the public that the disease is transmitted through contact with bodily fluids and distributing promising experimental drugs.

Though there were only a handful of infected patients in Liberia in December, that does not mean the disease is on the verge of being eradicated. Doctors believe that animals carry the virus, so Ebola could flare up again if a person comes into contact with an infected creature.

While government officials and health organizations struggled with the raging epidemic early in 2015, they gradually brought it under control. Here's a look at how the crisis unfolded this year in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.

  • John Moore via Getty Images
    A congregation prays during a Sunday service at the Bethel World Outreach Church in the West Point township on Jan. 25, 2015, in Monrovia, Liberia. With Ebola cases now in single digits nationwide, many Liberians have begun to return to normal life.
  • John Moore via Getty Images
    Bindu Quaye celebrates with friends at her wedding reception on Jan. 24, 2015, in Monrovia, Liberia. Like many couples, Quaye and her groom, Clarence Murvee, waited until the worst of the Ebola epidemic had passed before scheduling their wedding.
  • John Moore via Getty Images
    As a sense of normalcy returned to Liberia, youth began to play soccer on the "Miami Beach" on Jan. 25, 2015, in Monrovia, Liberia.
  • John Moore via Getty Images
    A burial team carries the body of a 1-year-old to be interred at the U.S.-built cemetery for "safe burials," as American Ebola response coordinator Matt Ward supervises on Jan. 27, 2015, in Disco Hill, Liberia. The cemetery, operated by USAID-funded Global Communities, has buried almost 300 people in its first month of operation, with increasingly fewer of the bodies coming from Ebola Treatment Units as infection rates decline. The cemetery, where burial team members wear protective clothing, has been seen in Monrovia as a major achievement, as families of deceased loved ones are permitted to view the burials, important in Liberian culture. In an effort to control the Ebola epidemic in 2014, the Liberian government had ordered the cremation of all deceased in the capital, often further traumatizing surviving family members and unintentionally encouraging many families to hide their dead for secret burials.
  • John Moore via Getty Images
    Ebola survivor and nurse's aid Benetha Coleman comforts an infant girl with Ebola symptoms in the high-risk area of the Doctors Without Borders (MSF) Ebola Treatment Unit on Jan. 26, 2015, in Paynesville, Liberia. Ebola survivors have immunity to the strain of the disease that infected them. The baby's blood test later came out as negative.
  • John Moore via Getty Images
    A nurse administers an injection on the first day of the Ebola vaccine study being conducted at Redemption Hospital, formerly an Ebola holding center, on Feb. 2, 2015, in Monrovia, Liberia.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Traditional leaders, right, walk as a choir follows before the start of a ceremony for people who died due to the Ebola virus and who got cremated at a crematorium on the outskirts of Monrovia, Liberia, on March 7, 2015. Traditional leaders from the 15 counties in Liberia performed prayers at the crematorium. After the ceremony, the remains were transported to a burial site were family members and traditional leaders gave their last blessing.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Relatives weep as they bury a loved one suspected of dying from the Ebola virus at a new graveyard on the outskirts of Monrovia, Liberia, on March 11, 2015.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Health workers move the ashes, in white drums, of people who died due to the Ebola virus at a crematorium on the outskirts of Monrovia, Liberia, on March 7, 2015.
  • ZOOM DOSSO via Getty Images
    Liberian workers dismantle shelters in an Ebola treatment center closed by the charity Medecins Sans Frontiers (or Doctors Without Borders) in the Paynesville neighborhood in Monrovia on March 25, 2015.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    A usually busy street is deserted as Sierra Leone enters a three-day countrywide lockdown on movement of people due to the Ebola virus in the city of Freetown, Sierra Leone, on March 27, 2015. Sierra Leone's 6 million people were told to stay home for three days, except for religious services, as the West African nation attempted a final push to rid itself of Ebola.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    A man takes part in the celebrations to mark Liberia being an Ebola-free nation in Monrovia, Liberia, on May 11, 2015.
  • CELLOU BINANI via Getty Images
    A man suspected of being infected with Ebola lies dead in the street in Conakry, Guinea, on Aug. 21, 2015.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Women celebrate as their country is declared Ebola free in the city of Freetown, Sierra Leone, on Nov. 7, 2015. The World Health Organization declared Sierra Leone free from Ebola transmissions as West Africa battles to stamp out the deadly virus that is holding on in neighboring Guinea.
  • CELLOU BINANI via Getty Images
    Medical workers present Noubia, the last known patient to contract Ebola in Guinea, during her release from a Doctors Without Borders treatment center in Conakry on Nov. 28, 2015. The 34-day-old baby, officially declared treated on Nov. 16, was presented by personnel from the treatment center, with applause, during an emotional ceremony in the presence of her family.

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