(CBSDFW.COM) – The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has joined the global public health community in marking the end of the Ebola outbreak in the province of Équateur in The Democratic Republic Of The Congo.

Today marks 42 days, or two incubation periods, since the last survivor tested negative for the virus.

“This is a tremendous accomplishment, particularly in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said CDC Director Robert R. Redfield, M.D. “CDC congratulates the DRC Ministry of Health and partners who have worked tirelessly to overcome challenges and bring this Ebola outbreak to an end.”

While reaching this milestone is a great achievement,  efforts to quickly detect new cases of Ebola must continue for at least six months as cases due to sexual transmission or relapse are always possible following an outbreak.

Before the Ebola epidemic — which is believed to have started in rural Guinea in December 2013 — most of what was known about the disease was limited to studies of much smaller outbreaks in Congo and Uganda. But the disease eventually made its way to Guinea’s capital, then leaped across borders to Liberia and Sierra Leone. Cases also popped up years ago in Mali, Senegal and Nigeria though transmission chains there were quickly shut down.

Ebola virus disease (EVD) is a very rare disease caused by infection with Zaire ebolavirus, one of four types of the virus that is known to cause illness in people. It is believed to occur naturally in specific animal populations that live in multiple sub-Saharan African countries. In the areas of sub-Saharan Africa where EVD is most common, Ebola virus is believed to spread at low rates among certain animal populations. Occasionally people become sick with Ebola after coming into contact with infected animals, which can then lead to Ebola outbreaks being spread person-to-person. It has been brought to the United States on a small number of occasions.

A Liberian man who traveled to the United States in October 2014 fell ill and died at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. That man, Thomas Eric Duncan, was the first person to die from Ebola in the country.

No other deaths emerged in Texas, though two nurses got sick and the cases sparked panic in the United States.

To date, there have only been four cases of EVD diagnosed in the United States, according to the CDC. .

Back in January of 2016, the World Health Organization declared an end to a deadly Ebola outbreak in Liberia after no new cases emerged there, but not before nearly 23,000 children lost at least one parent or caregiver to the disease.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the Ebola vaccine Ervebo on December 19, 2019. It was the first FDA-approved vaccine for Ebola.

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