Liberia down to just five Ebola cases

A senior Liberian health official said Friday that the country is down to just five confirmed cases of Ebola, a dramatic decline since last fall.

"It means that we are going down to zero, if everything goes well, if other people don't get sick in other places," said Deputy Health Minister Tolbert Nyenswah, according to Reuters.

The announcement points to the success of the U.S. response to Ebola in Liberia, where American efforts were focused. Military troops deployed to build treatment centers, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sent personnel to communicate with locals and track chains of infection.

The death toll from the ongoing Ebola epidemic surpassed 8,600 as of this week, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). New cases are also declining in Sierra Leone and Guinea, though the WHO has warned that it will run out of funds to fight Ebola in February.

The final Liberian cases of Ebola are located in the capital Monrovia and in Bomi and Grand Cape Mount Counties. Advocates hope the country will be virus-free by the end of February.