Ebola has re-emerged in Sierra Leone. Here’s what you need to know
Africa breathed a sigh of relief last week after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared West Africa Ebola free. However, WHO appeared to have missed a spot when a new case of the Ebola virus was reportedly discovered in Sierra Leone barely 24 hours after the declaration. “The sample was tested for the first time last Thursday morning – around the same time as the WHO declared the Ebola outbreak over”, said Tim Brooks of Public Health England, the British agency that tested the sample at its lab in Sierra Leone.
This is what we know so far:
More than 100 people have been quarantined in Sierra Leone, 28 of whom were high-risk cases after having contact with a woman who died of Ebola last week in Sierra Leone.
The recent outbreak was traced to 22-year-old Mariatu Jalloh, who died on the 12th January after a trip to Bamoi Luma near the border with Guinea last December, one of the country’s last Ebola hot spots prior to the country’s Ebola free declaration in November 2015, Reuters reported.
She was treated at the local Magburaka Government Hospital where a health worker, who did not wear protective clothing, took a blood sample but was not clear of the Ebola virus.
Prior to her death on 12th January, She was treated as an outpatient and had contact with at least 22 people living around her while 5 people washed her corpse. The health department received a lot of criticism from the public for their negligence in dealing with a case known to have claimed lot of lives over the past years. This raises the question of whether hospitals in West Africa are prepared for another outbreak across the continent.
Despite an unclear source of transmission, an active investigation has commenced to four districts where Mariatu Jalloh possibly contacted the virus when she travelled.
A ban has been placed on traditional burial ceremonies and WHO has assured that a major outbreak is unlikely.
Last week Thursday marked 42 days (twice the incubation period of the virus) since the last patient in Liberia was tested negative for the virus, thereby completing the duration required by WHO to declare an end to any epidemic.
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