The Last Patient: Countdown to an Ebola-Free Sierra Leone

On Monday, the last known Ebola patient in Sierra Leone walked out of the Mateneh Ebola treatment center. According to news reports, Adama Sankoh was met with a festive ceremony upon exiting the Freetown, Sierra Leone, clinic as a healthy, Ebola-free woman. Her discharge from the facility marks the beginning of the West African nation’s 42-day countdown and waiting period for any new cases of Ebola.

News outlets across the world reported on the momentous event—a stark contrast to their reporting this time last year, when hundreds of new Ebola cases and deaths were reported each week, creating a solemn, tragic situation in Sierra Leone and other affected nations in West Africa. The 42-day waiting period includes two 21-day incubation periods for the disease. Without another case during this time frame, the World Health Organization can declare the nation Ebola-free.

This tremendous achievement would not have been possible without the expertise, bolstered infrastructure and boots on the ground that CDC and its partners, including ministries of health in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, brought to beat back the disease in West Africa. While we remember the nearly 4,000 lives lost in Sierra Leone during the epidemic, the CDC Foundation congratulates the nation on this important milestone, which we hope signals the imminent end for Ebola there.

Photo: © David Snyder/CDC Foundation

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UPDATE: On Sunday, August 30, officials in Sierra Leone confirmed a new death from Ebola in a rural area near the Guinea border. The nation’s National Ebola Response Center has begun investigating and tracing anyone who had contact with the victim, a 67-year-old woman. 


Charles Stokes is president and CEO of the CDC Foundation.