A new case of Ebola has been confirmed in Liberia today, just three months after the country was declared free of the deadly virus, according to CNN. It was also declared free of Ebola in May, 2015, raising concerns if the virus will ever be eradicated.
A 30-year-old woman died last night at the Redemption Hospital in New Kru Town, a suburb of Monrovia, according to Tolbert Nyenswah, Liberian Assistant Minister of Health.
“She died on arrival and a swab was taken, analyzed in the lab and was confirmed. We are investigating the source.”
Woman dies of Ebola in Liberia in latest flare-up of virus in that West African nation since outbreak ended. https://t.co/Itzh5wjHIz
— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) April 1, 2016
It’s not clear how the woman became infected or if anyone else knew she was infected. An emergency meeting is being held by Liberian health authorities to coordinate a rapid response to identify anyone who may have had contact with the woman.
Liberia was the center of the 2013-2014 Ebola outbreak with more than 10,000 documented cases and nearly 5,000 deaths. It was the worst outbreak in the West African region.
Flare-ups have also occurred in Sierra Leone and Guinea after they were declared to be free of Ebola. According the World Health Organization, there have been eight cases and seven deaths in Guinea since February. The only survivor being an 11-year-old girl. Sadly, six of them are from the same extended family in Koropara village.
About 1,000 people who have had contact with the eight infected persons have been put under observation. They are getting assistance in the form of food, money, and hygiene kits.
— ABC News (@ABC) April 1, 2016
WHO said flare-ups are expected and that Ebola is no longer an international concern. Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea were the West African countries most affected by the 2013-2014 Ebola outbreak that infected more than 28,000 people, killing more than 11,300 of them. WHO warned that this region “must maintain strong capacity to prevent, detect and respond to further outbreaks.” WHO is maintaining 1,000 staff members in the region to assist with any outbreaks.
A flare-up is also occurring in Guinea, which was declared free of Ebola in December then new cases emerged in February. Experimental vaccines are being given in Guinea, according to the New York Times. Though there is no universally approved vaccine, almost 800 people were vaccinated this past week. Of those, 182 persons that were vaccinated were declared to be high-risk for having contact with the eight infected persons. The vaccination has proven to be effective in the past.
Ebola is spread through body fluids, even from corpses and an African tradition is to touch the body of the deceased, which may attribute to the 2013-2014 epidemic. The symptoms can take up 21 days to appear, so it’s possible for many to be infected and unknowingly spread it to others. Ebola symptoms are similar to other tropical diseases like malaria, cholera, and typhoid fever. Symptoms include fever, headaches, fatigue and sore throat. It is in the late stages that Ebola causes hemorrhaging. Survivors may still spread the disease by breast milk or semen for months after recovery.
The Ebola virus, named after the Ebola river, was first identified in a nearby village in 1976. The source of the virus is thought to be fruit bats, which appear to not be affected by the virus, but a carrier. Fruit bats are hunted as a food source and referred to as bushmeat. The virus can also be spread to dogs and pigs.
WHO stated on Tuesday that Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone now have the ability to maintain small outbreaks and the “likelihood of international spread is low.” The organization said the following small outbreaks are likely due to survivors of the disease. Dr. Margaret Chan, WHO’s director general, urged other countries to rescind any bans on travel to these countries. Sierra Leone is currently thought to be free of Ebola, as its last confirmed case was in January.
[Photo by Michael Duff/AP Images]