Ebola virus resurfaces in West Africa
15 February 2021
The Ebola virus claimed more than 11,300 lives in West Africa when it swept through Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia in the 2013-2016 outbreak. Now there are concerns of a new outbreak of the virus with news of its spread to Congo, with health officials now confirming a 2nd outbreak in the Equater province.
The most recent outbreak is largely confined to Guinea, in West Africa. Three people have died from the virus so far, forcing the government to declare an Ebola epidemic. A total of seven patients fell ill after attending the burial of a nurse, reporting symptoms of diarrhea, vomiting and bleeding, leading to the three deaths. The health ministry said all cases were adults over the age of 25 and that contact tracing was ongoing despite the cases being isolated.
Neighbouring countries have been put on heightened alert after fears the outbreak could spread between areas such as Liberia and Sierra Leone, which have relatively weak healthcare systems.
Eastern Congo also confirmed the discovery of the virus at the beginning of February, as three cases were identified.
The outbreak in 2013 was catastrophic; nearly 30,000 people across the three nations were infected with the disease, which is spread via contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids. From its epicenter in West Africa the epidemic reached Nigeria, Spain, the US and UK, only slowing in June 2016 when the WHO declared the outbreak in Liberia over.
World Health Organization officials have confirmed that newly developed vaccines will be acquired through them. A treatment centre is set to be set up in Geoueké for patients. Officials are testing a number of Ebola treatments but none are licensed yet.
In December 2016 a team in Guinea announced that a new and effective vaccine had been developed however it has not yet been approved by any regulatory bodies. The experimental vaccine has been shown to provide 100 per cent protection against the disease as it was used in the dying days of the last outbreak.
Already a stockpile of 300,000 doses of the medication has been built up should an outbreak flare up again.
Adapted from dailyexpress