People pass a banner reading 'STOP EBOLA' forming part of Sierra Leone's Ebola free campaign in the city of Freetown, Sierra Leone, Jan. 15, 2016. A corpse has tested positive for Ebola in Sierra Leone, an official said Friday, the day after the World Health Organization declared the outbreak over in West Africa. (AP Photo/Aurelie Marrier d'Unienville)
The organization warned that flare-ups were still possible. "We are now at a critical period in the Ebola epidemic as we move from managing cases and patients to managing the residual risk of new infections," Dr. Bruce Aylward, WHO's Special Representative for the Ebola Response said Thursday. "We still anticipate more flare-ups and must be prepared for them." Nearly 4,000 people had died before Sierra Leone was declared free from transmission of Ebola on Nov. 7. Guinea marked that day on Dec. 29.
"We are now at a critical period..."
Men on motorbikes ride past a wall with a messages painted on it reading 'We go wash Ebola' forming part of Sierra Leone's Ebola free campaign in the city of Freetown, Sierra Leone, Jan. 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Aurelie Marrier d'Unienville)Liberia was first declared free of the disease in May, but new cases emerged two times — forcing officials there to restart the clock. Thursday marked its third time being declared free from transmission. Ebola has killed more than 11,300 people, mostly in West Africa, since it emerged at the end of 2013. WHO declares Ebola transmission over when a country goes through two incubation periods — 21 days each — without a new case emerging. Countries are then placed on a 90-day heightened surveillance.
Ebola is spread through direct contact with the bodily fluids of people who are sick or bodies of the dead. WHO says that flare-up cases, such as in Liberia, "are likely the result of the virus persisting in survivors even after recovery." Of particular concern is the fact it is now known that Ebola is present in the semen of some male survivors up to a year later. The WHO said Thursday that Ebola can "in rare instances be transmitted to intimate partners." __ The story has been updated to correct that Guinea was declared Ebola-free on Dec. 29, and that the spokesman's name is Francis Langoba Kellie.
Flare-up cases "are likely the result of the virus persisting in survivors even after recovery."
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