Liberia confirmed a third new case of the deadly Ebola virus on Thursday, as the disease has re-emerged in recent days nearly two months after the outbreak was declared over in the West African nation.
The discovery of new cases undermines the biggest success story of the West African Ebola outbreak which began last year, the deadliest ever. Liberia, where 4,800 people have died out of the 11,200 killed in the outbreak, was declared Ebola-free on May 9 even as the disease has continued to infect new victims in neighbouring Sierra Leone and Guinea.
The first new case, 17-year-old Abraham Memaigar, died on Sunday in a rural area of Margibi County, about 50 km (30 miles) from the capital Monrovia. “We have, as of yesterday, three confirmed cases. One expired, who was the 17-year-old boy … The two live cases are 24 years old and 27 years old. They are stable,” Deputy Health Minister Tolbert Nyenswah said on Thursday.
Memaigar was initially misdiagnosed with malaria. He was buried the day he dead and tests later confirmed his Ebola infection. None of the new victims are known to have travelled to Guinea or Liberia, leading to speculation among the medical community that there could be hidden pockets of the disease or new means of transmission.
Nyenswah said health officials were monitoring 175 people believed to have come into contact with the three cases, though none had yet exhibited symptoms of the disease. “There is no further spread of the virus to any part of the country as we speak,” he said. “It is being localised in Margibi and not the entire country, but in that single town called Nedowein.”
A U.S. military operation aimed at helping Liberia’s government counter the outbreak has mostly withdrawn. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a U.S. health body, said it was working with local authorities to study the origin of the cases and stop the virus spreading.
Published: Jul 2, 2015. By Alphonso Toweh
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