With one patient being treated for Ebola at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., this week, the United States today has more current Ebola cases than Liberia, the West African country that was once the outbreak's epicenter.
This marks a peculiar moment in the outbreak. After suffering more than 9,000 cases of Ebola, Liberia discharged its last Ebola patient March 5. Now, the nation is counting down the days until it can be declared Ebola-free. That comes April 4 — still a ways off.
At the same time, Ebola remains a major problem in Liberia's neighbor nations of Sierra Leone and Guinea. Both countries still report about 60 new Ebola cases a week, according to the World Health Organization. The world's worst Ebola outbreak continues to be a major public health threat in West Africa.
The United States has not had an active Ebola case since November, when Craig Spencer was treated and eventually released from a New York City hospital after becoming infected while working in Guinea.
The current U.S. patient arrived at NIH on Friday. He is an American clinician infected while working in Sierra Leone. He has not been identified. On Monday, his condition was downgraded to critical.
Almost a dozen health-care workers who had contact with this clinician in Sierra Leone also were flown to the United States for observation. One of them, after showing possible signs of illness, was moved into isolation Monday at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.
Also Monday, an English health-care worker was flown to a hospital in Newcastle, England, for observation.
So far, only two people — both nurses at a hospital in Dallas who treated an Ebola patient infected in Liberia — have actually been infected with the virus in the United States.