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Ebola patient in Germany cured, sent back home to Senegal

A WHO scientist was diagnosed with ebola, treated in Germany, and returned home to Senegal Friday. 

A scientist who was infected with Ebola while working for the World Health Organization in Sierra Leone has recovered and been discharged from a German hospital.

The University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf says the unidentified man, who was brought to Germany in late August, left the hospital on Friday.

In a statement Saturday it said he was doing well and had returned to his home country.

WHO said the man from Senegal had been infected while working for the agency as a consultant in West Africa, which is experiencing the biggest Ebola outbreak on record.

Another patient who contracted Ebola in West Africa is being treated in Frankfurt. The unidentified Ugandan man who worked for an Italian aid group was brought there on Friday from Sierra Leone.

Reuters reports the worldwide death toll from the disease is 3,439 people, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday.

There had been 739 deaths in Guinea and 623 deaths in Sierra Leone by the end of Oct. 1, and 2,069 deaths in Liberia  by Sept. 30, the data showed. There have also been eight deaths in Nigeria, the U.N. body said.

Overall, the WHO said there had been 7,492 ebola cases recorded. (Reporting by Tom Miles; Editing by Andrew Heavens).

Four US health care workers diagnosed with Ebola all survived after receiving treatment in the US. As The Christian Science Monitor reported, this is not the first time a global pandemic has been averted.

As the US and the world ratchet up their humanitarian response to an outbreak President Obama has called “a threat to global security,” health authorities remind Americans that other diseases that threatened to spread even more easily have been kept in check in the recent past. Massive investments in public health funding, medical research, and containment strategies have played a major role in keeping diseases including SARS, avian flu, H1N1 (swine flu), and Ebola from gaining serious footholds in human populations, especially in the West.

For example:

  • SARS, a pneumonia variant, threatened millions in 2003, but was thwarted when public health organizations, including the WHO, broke what’s called the “chain of transmission” that could have turned local outbreaks into a broader pandemic.
  • In 2005, avian flu raised concerns about disease migration from fowl to humans, which could impact 20 percent of the world’s population. But human-to-human transmission of the variant never materialized, though 59 people died.
  • The 2009 pandemic of H1N1 killed nearly 15,000 people worldwide but was stopped in the US in part by emergency productions of a vaccine. Global public health lessons learned from the 2005 avian flu also played a role in containing the pandemic, officials said.

Ebola is the newest threat. According to CDC models, Africa could witness 1.3 million cases of Ebola if nobody lifts a finger to help. Conversely,  the same models show that if Western and richer African nations manage to help get 70 percent of patients into care by December, the epidemic would be largely over by Jan. 20.

That’s the current trend line. "There is a regular and by now daily positive change in terms of what resources and capabilities countries are putting on the table," Gayle Smith, senior director of the National Security Council, told reporters this week

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