People traveling from Mali in West Africa will no longer have to undergo enhanced screening and monitoring for possible signs of Ebola virus disease when they enter the US, and neither will their entry be restricted to five designated airports.

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Two cycles of Ebola virus incubation period will have elapsed in Mali on January 6th since the last infected patient came into contact with someone not wearing protective equipment.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announce that on January 6, Mali will no longer be on the list of Ebola-affected countries whose US-bound travelers are subject to enhanced visa and port-of-entry screening.

However, the federal agencies say travelers who entered the US from Mali before January 6 must continue active monitoring and report any potential symptoms of Ebola virus disease for up to 21 days from the date they left Mali.

The restrictions are lifting because 42 days – double the 21-day incubation period of the Ebola virus – will have elapsed on January 6th since the last infected patient in Mali came into contact with anyone not wearing protective equipment.

The last Ebola patient in Mali tested negative on December 5th, 2014, and there are no active cases there now.

Even if isolated cases were to flare up in Mali, the US authorities would not necessarily re-impose entry screening. This would only be done if there were to be a risk of widespread transmission, say the CDC.

At the same time as lifting these measures, the CDC are removing the Alert Level 2 Travel Notice that advises travelers bound from the US to Mali to take extra precautions.

Enhanced visa and port-of-entry screening measures will remain for travelers to the US from Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. The cases in Mali were related to the outbreak that is ongoing in these three countries.

Travelers from the US to Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone are advised to heed Warning Level 3 travel notices that urge them to avoid nonessential travel to these Ebola-affected countries.

According to the latest World Health Organization (WHO) situation report, there have been over 20,200 reported cases of Ebola virus disease, with over 7,900 reported deaths in the West Africa epidemic.

Incidence of reported new cases are still up and down in Guinea, and seem to be decreasing in Liberia – although Liberia reported more cases in the last week of December than in the week before.

WHO report there are signs that the spread of the disease is slowing down in Sierra Leone, although intense transmission is still ongoing in the west of the country.

The US has reported 4 lab-confirmed cases of Ebola virus disease, including 1 death. The UK has reported its first confirmed case – a British nurse who was diagnosed with Ebola in December after returning from serving as a volunteer with Save the Children in Sierra Leone. Other previously affected countries include Nigeria, Senegal and Spain.

Signs and symptoms of Ebola virus disease include fever, severe headache, muscle pain, fatigue, weakness, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain and unexplained bleeding or bruising. They can appear anytime between 2 and 21 days after exposure, although on average it is usually 8 to 10 days.

Recovery from Ebola depends on receiving prompt and effective medical care and the strength of the patient’s immune system. Patients who survive infection develop antibodies that can last for 10 years or more.

Medical News Today recently learned how researchers found evidence that free-tailed insectivorous bats could be a likely source of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. The virus may have passed to children playing near a colony of such bats in Guinea. This is contrary to the idea that the virus passed to humans through consumption of fruit bats.