The outbreak of Ebola in Senegal became official at the end of August in 2014. A young man who had traveled from Guinea—a country already inflicted with Ebola—to Dakar (the capital city of Senegal) was confirmed to have the virus. The WHO immediately jumped into action and sent three of the world’s best Ebola epidemiologists to contain the disease and prevent spreading.
Symptoms of Ebola
The first symptoms of Ebola are like the typical signs of flu such as a headache, fever and chills. It spreads through contact of bodily fluids resulting in internal bleeding and organ failure. A person with a late stage of the virus often shows symptoms such as coughing up blood.
The disease has a fatality rate of up to 90 percent. Ebola can be contracted from the bodies of those who died from it, particularly when relatives bury them without protective gear.
About the History of Ebola in Senegal
Senegal was in a relatively advantageous position when Ebola struck their country because they had time to prepare as they watched it spread in neighboring countries. A National Crisis Committee was established quickly, to which funds were allocated in order to suppress the virus. To be safe, the government of Senegal expanded the eradication plan nationwide in response to the single case found in Dakar.
The fight against Ebola started with locating every person that came in contact with the first infected man in the country. After 74 people were identified, they were monitored intently to watch for signs of symptoms. The few that showed any symptoms similar to that of Ebola were tested, and all tests came back negative.
The infected man was treated in a hospital and recovered fully. He was allowed to re-enter the society once it was decided he was not carrying any contagion.
Around the time that Ebola broke out in Senegal, the country closed its borders to travelers from Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. This safety measure was taken in response to the massive epidemic of Ebola in those countries. The president of Senegal stated publicly that it should not just be an African emergency, but a global priority.
Senegal was lucky in comparison to its neighbors. The case of Ebola in Senegal is a perfect example of the positive effects proactive measures can have. Because Senegal took precautions before Ebola was found in their country, they were prepared for the disease when it was discovered.
A major factor in the success of Senegal’s fight against Ebola is the awareness they had about Ebola’s advances in their surrounding countries. Some of the measures Senegal took could be seen as excessive, but their “better safe than sorry” attitude contributed significantly to their Ebola-free status.
After the standard 42-day waiting period for Ebola cases, Senegal was declared Ebola-free by WHO on October 17, 2014. The country has not had another case since.
When the government of a country prioritizes the safety and health of its people, innumerable lives are saved. The diligence of Senegal ensured there was no more than one case found and no deaths from Ebola.
Even a disease as fatal and severe as Ebola can be prevented when fought effectively. Other nations can use Senegal’s response to Ebola as a role model for how to fight the disease.
– Amelia Merchant