Fresh Ebola cases confirmed in Guinea

18 Mar 16

Two cases of Ebola have been confirmed in Guinea, but Sierra Leone has again been given the all clear after a flare up of the disease.

Investigators from the WHO, UNICEF and the US Centre for Disease Control in Guinea have confirmed a fresh outbreak in the country.

The WHO stressed that the country, as well as Sierra Leone and Liberia where there were outbreaks of the disease last year, remain at risk of such “flare-ups” largely due to virus persistence in some survivors. The three countries, which were the worst hit during the epidemic, “must remain on high alert and ready to respond”, it said.

The risk of re-emergence of the virus, which spreads through contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person, is gradually diminishing as it clears from the population of survivors. For example, Sierra Leone has once again been declared Ebola-free by the WHO.

However small, it is necessary to act quickly to contain these flare-ups and ensure they don’t spiral into a renewed outbreak of the disease.

The WHO said it and Guinea’s Ministry of Health had deployed a team of experts to monitor the situation and support the country’s inter-agency response.

More specialists are expected to arrive in the rural village where the virus has been found in the next couple of days, where response teams will work to investigate the origin of the infection and identify, isolate and vaccinate all those at risk, stopping it from spreading further.

Guinean health officials alerted the WHO yesterday after three people died in the village of Koropara in Guinea’s southern prefecture of Nzérékoré and members of the same family were reported to be showing symptoms characteristic of Ebola.

Samples were taken from four individuals and two relatives of the deceased, a mother and her son, tested positive to the virus. They have since been taken to a treatment facility.

Guinea’s National Emergency Response Centre is holding a meeting today to coordinate a rapid response to contain the country’s first re-emergence of the virus since it was declared Ebola-free on 29 December last year/.

A few weeks later, on 14 January, Liberia was also declared Ebola-free, meaning 42 days had passed since the last confirmed patient in the country tested negative for the virus.

This marked the first time all three West African countries that had suffered the most from the epidemic were free of the virus simultaneously, described as a “monumental achievement” by WHO director general Margaret Chan.

However the celebrations were short-lived, as less than 24 hours since the announcement a case of Ebola was confirmed in Sierra Leone.

The Ebola epidemic began in December 2013 and claimed more than 11,300 lives, mostly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. 

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