As Ebola Outbreak In Liberia Slows, WHO Stresses Caution

The World Health Organization says the spread of Ebola in Liberia has slowed but also warns the disease is not yet under control.
Posted at 10:52 AM, Oct 30, 2014

After announcing the total number of confirmed Ebola cases surpassed 13,000, the World Health Organization had some good news on Wednesday for the region worst afflicted with the deadly disease.

CNN"There are some encouraging signs we can report, though, out of Liberia — the rate of infection there seems to be slowing."

AL JAZEERA"The WHO says it's cautiously optimistic that the rate of new cases is slowing."

Yes, according to health officials, the appearance of new cases seems to be slowing down in Liberia. The reason is that there's less of this:

VICE REPORTER: "Do you guys ever worry about Ebola? Do you think that's real?"

LIBERIAN: "No. I don't believe that Ebola is real."

And more of this:

BRUCE AYLWARD VIA UNITED NATIONS"With the concerted community engagement, with safe burials, with a big push on getting the right information out through the right channels, you can rapidly get the behavior changes that are critical to protecting populations and helping them protect themselves."

Early on, misinformation on how to prevent the disease or even doubts over its existence plagued the West African countries afflicted with the disease. 

Now, with almost 5,000 confirmed deaths, educational efforts appear to be paying off.

A health writer at The New York Times compares the realization of Ebola's dangers to lung cancer in the U.S, saying:

"It took 30 years for Americans to fully accept that smoking caused lung cancer. Once they believed, fewer started smoking. Deaths from lung cancer are now much lower than they used to be because many Americans in their [50s and 60s] didn’t start as teenagers, or quit."

It's worth emphasizing that health officials aren't saying they have Ebola under control — just that the rapid increase in cases in Liberia looks like it's slowing down. 

Al Jazeera quotes WHO Assistant Director General Bruce Aylward as saying he would be "terrified" if any wrong conclusions were made from this recent announcement. He also said saying Ebola is under control is "like saying your pet tiger is under control."

And although this is good news for Liberia, Aylward stressed that with rates still not improving in Sierra Leone and Guinea, West Africa still needs international assistance.

This video includes images from Getty Images.