Ebola outbreak in the south over - WHO

The Ebola outbreak in Yambio county, Western Equatoria, that was reported in May is over, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Saturday. Seven people died and 17 were infected during the outbreak, it added.

"The rapid containment of this outbreak was a tremendous success for the health authorities, WHO, and the international community involved in the control operations," Abdullah Ahmed, WHO head in southern Sudan, said.

In June, WHO had said the outbreak had been contained. But surveillance of the area, including 157 people who had had contact with Ebola, was continued for about two months along with social mobilisation programmes in Yambio and surrounding counties.

"Today marks the 42nd day since the last person identified as infected with Ebola haemorrhagic fever died on 26 June 2004 in Yambio Hospital." WHO said in a statement on Saturday.

"As 42 days is twice the maximum incubation period for Ebola, and as no further cases have been identified, WHO declares today that the outbreak in southern Sudan is over," it added.

The Ebola virus, which causes bloody vomiting and diarrhoea, is passed on through contact with body fluids of those who are infected. It causes death in 50-90 percent of all clinically ill cases.

Several outbreaks have occurred in Western Equatoria since 1976 and are believed by medical experts to be linked to the widespread consumption of bush meat in the region. WHO said lessons learned during the previous outbreaks had been applied to contain the latest situation.

In order to control the outbreak, various efforts were employed. These included the establishment of an isolation ward at Yambio Hospital with a low fence so that patients were effectively isolated, yet still able to see and talk to their family and friends over the fence at a safe distance.