Ebola case reported in Ivory Coast following outbreak in Guinea | World information
By TOUSSAINT N’GOTTA and KRISTA LARSON, Associated Press
ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast (AP) – A patient tested positive for Ebola in Abidjan, a city of over 4 million people. This is the first case of the disease in Ivory Coast in more than a quarter of a century, the World Health Organization said.
Health officials said it was not immediately known whether the case was linked to an outbreak in neighboring Guinea earlier this year that was declared over in mid-June.
The patient being treated in Abidjan arrived by bus from Guinea on Thursday, raising fears that others might have become infected during the trip.
Ebola is spread through contact with an infected person’s body fluids or contaminated materials. However, the early symptoms of fever and muscle pain are similar to other common diseases in the area such as malaria.
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“Further research and genome sequencing will identify the strain and determine whether there is a link between the two outbreaks,” the WHO said in a statement on Saturday.
The new case is also the first time since the 2014-2016 Ebola epidemic that an outbreak has broken out in a city as big as Abidjan.
“It is extremely worrying that this outbreak was proclaimed in Abidjan, a metropolis of over 4 million people,” said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “However, much of the world’s know-how on how to fight Ebola lies here on the continent, and the Ivory Coast can use this experience and get the response in full swing.”
The 2014-2016 epidemic that began in rural Guinea eventually spread to the capitals of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. More than 11,325 people died in the largest Ebola outbreak in history.
In the years that followed, two vaccines and new treatments were developed to treat the hemorrhagic fever that once killed more than half of its victims. These instruments have been used to stop outbreaks in the Congo and another one discovered in Guinea earlier this year.
However, researchers have said there is evidence that the Ebola virus can lurk in the body long after symptoms have subsided. Researchers have said the 2021 outbreak, which killed a dozen people, may have been triggered by a survivor of the 2014-2016 epidemic.
Scientists have previously documented Ebola survivors who inadvertently infected others long after they recovered, but such rare cases have not resulted in outbreaks. In 2018, doctors published a study of a Liberian woman who probably contracted Ebola in 2014 but then infected three relatives about a year later.
Health officials have also warned that men can sometimes infect others through sex long after they appear to have recovered – the virus can persist in semen for more than a year.
It was not immediately clear whether anyone in Guinea, where the patient had come from in Ivory Coast, was still infected with Ebola.
Guinea is also trying to contain a rare outbreak of the Marburg virus, another hemorrhagic febrile illness that belongs to the same family as Ebola.
Larson reported from Dakar, Senegal.
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