The World Health Organization has declared that Nigeria is now free of Ebola, a rare victory in the monthslong battle against the fatal disease. In an update issued today, the UN health agency says the country's containment of the lethal disease is a "spectacular success story." The announcement comes after 42 days have passed—twice the disease's maximum incubation period—since the last case in Nigeria tested negative. "The outbreak in Nigeria has been contained," says WHO Country Director Rui Gama Vaz. "But we must be clear that we only won a battle. The war will only end when West Africa is also declared free of Ebola."
WHO says Nigeria had traced nearly every contact of Ebola patients in the country, all of whom were linked to the country's first patient, a Liberian man who arrived with symptoms in Lagos and later died. Nigeria reported 20 cases of Ebola, including eight deaths. For an outbreak to be declared officially over, WHO convenes a committee on surveillance, epidemiology, and lab testing to determine that all conditions have been met. Vaz warns that Nigeria's geographical position and extensive borders make the country, Africa's most populous, vulnerable to additional imported cases of Ebola. "Therefore there is need to continue to work together with states to ensure adequate preparedness to rapidly respond, in case of any potential re-importation," he says. (Meanwhile, some positive Ebola-related news out of Dallas.)