Actor Orlando Bloom recently visited Liberia, which has been locked in a fight with Ebola for over a year, and recounted the details of his visit.
Bloom's message was simple: Even amid the retreat of the virus, this is no time for a false sense of security.
"The threat of Ebola remains very real," Bloom wrote in a CNN editorial. "Continued vigilance and strict adherence to safe practices are essential to stamp it out. All it takes is one case to reignite an outbreak that could quickly outpace any response efforts and put thousands more at risk."
Bloom said many in Liberia had celebrated a 21-day period without any new Ebola cases — only to have their relief cut short by a fatal case that appeared the day Bloom left the country.
The Lord of the Rings star described the extensive community efforts to stop the spread of Ebola.
"While in Liberia, I met members of local communities who have been at the center of the Ebola response," Bloom wrote. "Programs implemented by local partners, including youth groups, teachers and faith leaders, are helping educate the public on how to prevent Ebola transmission and encouraging them to seek immediate medical care in case they experience symptoms."
Education about Ebola and how to avoid it is essential to stopping the virus, Bloom said.
"Nearly 6,000 Liberian teachers have been trained to undertake door-to-door awareness activities." Bloom wrote. "But these communities must be supported in changing behaviors and ending unhealthy and dangerous practices so there is a stronger, safer future for Liberia's children."
Many West Africans may have harbored sickened family members in their homes rather than taking them to clinics. Traditional practices that involve laying hands on the dead also may have been partially responsible for the disease's transmission, Bloom said.
Ebola is a highly infectious and deadly virus transmitted via the bodily fluids of those already sick. It has claimed over 10,000 lives since appearing over a year ago in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.