The United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) warns of the need to maintain active surveillance in West Africa as new Ebola cases resurface in Liberia, almost two months into the country being declared free of the virus.
Liberia has got a re-infection of Ebola, Tolbert Nyenswah, deputy health minister and head of Liberias Ebola response team, told The Associated Press.The boy died at his home and was buried safely to avoid spread of the disease, Nyenswah said.
“This might mean that there is a reservoir of Ebola in animals that we have not been paying attention to”, said Dr Philip Ireland, at John F Kennedy Medical Center in Monrovia, an Ebola survivor.
The two men were “very stable” and walked to the ambulance that evacuated them from Nedowein, where Ebola was found on the teen’s corpse about seven weeks after Liberia was declared Ebola-free.
It was a remarkable turnaround for the country which had been hit hardest by the virus, with more than 4,800 people losing their lives. The situation in Guinea and Sierra Leone is improving with most new cases coming from registered contacts.
Meanwhile Liberian authorities are monitoring more than 100 people in an attempt to contain a new outbreak after the body of 17-year-old Abraham Memaigar tested positive for the virus on Sunday in Margibi County, a rural area about 30 miles from the capital.
Liberia’s neighbours Guinea and Sierra Leone are both battling the outbreak, which has killed more than 11,200 people, but the coastal Margibi County where the teenager died is much nearer Monrovia than either border.
So far, there’s only one new case, but health officials are rushing to stop its spread.
Under a heightened alert level, which dropped slightly after Nigeria successfully contained the virus last October, states will be required to report any suspected case to the federal health ministry.
Local media reported that the victim had fallen ill on June 21 and died three days later, although this couldn’t immediately be confirmed.
Memaigar was initially misdiagnosed with malaria.
Scientists have said the first Ebola victim, a two-year-old boy from Guinea believed to have triggered the current outbreak, may have been infected by playing in a hollow tree housing a colony of bats.
“The new outbreak in Liberia is probably a rare reactivation that we are only seeing because there are so many Ebola survivors living in one place”, he told Reuters.
But the authorities have not yet ruled out the possibility of someone arriving from either Guinea or Sierra Leone with the virus. Health officials say they isolated people who had contact with the teenager and are at risk of further infection.