More Than 100 Had Contact With Liberian Teen Who Contracted Ebola
July 1, 2015
Liberian health officials confirmed that two more people have become infected with Ebola after coming into contact with a 17-year-old boy who died from the virus on Sunday.
Abraham Memaigar’s remote village of Nedowian is in Margibi County — about an hour from the capital city, Monrovia.
The case effectively ended Liberia’s nearly 2-month-old Ebola free designation. And health officials are now moving quickly to contain this newest outbreak.
Cestus Tarpeh, a spokesman for the health department in Margibi County, told Agence France-Presse that they are still waiting for additional blood tests but that two people who had physical contact with the boy had contracted the virus.
The teen became sick on June 21, according to the World Health Organization, who added that health officials have identified at least 102 people who had contact with the boy. That number is expected to rise, the organization said.
One of the reasons so many people are believed to have had contact with the teen is that he sought medical care at multiple facilities, including seeking the help of a traditional healer, a spokesman for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who was not authorized to speak on the record, said. At one visit, he was treated for malaria and discharged.
It is also unclear how he contracted Ebola in the first place. So far, there is no indication that he traveled outside of Liberia, the CDC spokesman said.
Ebola symptoms are generally difficult to identify because they are similar to symptoms of other diseases, including malaria and other forms of hemorrhagic fevers that are endemic in West Africa.
It remains a possibility that the 17-year-old could have contracted the virus from an animal source. Bats are believed to be able to carry the Ebola virus without showing signs of illness.
[Ebola returns to Liberia, but health minister tells public ‘no need to panic’]
Tolbert Nyenswah, Liberia’s deputy health minister, told Front Page Africa this week that the situation is “under control” and that the quick detection of the case meant showed that the system is working as designed.
After the teen’s death on Sunday, he was given a safe burial that same day and a swab sample from the body was taken and tested for Ebola twice. Those types of test have become standard practice in Liberia for any deaths where patients reported symptoms similar to Ebola.
A team of over two dozen disease specialists from the CDC have remained in Liberia even after the epidemic was declared over. Half a dozen of those people immediately traveled to Margibi County after the Ebola diagnosis was confirmed. Several more have traveled to Liberia from the U.S. in recent days.
Yet the case has also raised some red flags.
Source: By Abby Phillip The Washington Post