Another Contagious Virus Has The WHO Concerned

The regional director of the World Health Organization in Africa has shared her concern about the resurgence of a disease that hit the continent hard a few years ago

Two doctors wearing protection and one of them holding a needle.
The Ebola virus could have reappeared in an African country | iStock

Coronavirus is not the only virus that has put the World Health Organization (WHO) on alert. A disease that has begun to increase its level of response in Guinea with the appearance of four suspected deaths has also set off all the alarms. 

The news was shared by Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO's regional director for Africa, who pointed out that there have been four deaths from what could be Ebola in a country on the continent

"Very concerned by reports of 4 suspected Ebola deaths in Guinea." the expert pointed out on her Twitter account.

"The WHO is ramping up readiness & response efforts to this potential resurgence of Ebola in West Africa, a region which suffered so much from Ebola in 2014". 

Vaccination, the best weapon against the virus

To prevent the recurrence of a situation similar to the one experienced by the country a few years ago and the spread of a virus that could cause another global epidemic, the World Health Organization has announced its intention to develop resources, including vaccines. 

"We will rapidly deploy the necessary capacities to support Guinea, which already has a great deal of experience," Professor Alfred George Ki-Zerbo explained to the press this Sunday, February 14, after a meeting with health authorities in the region. 

"Resources are now wider and we must take advantage of them to be able to contain this situation as quickly as possible. The WHO is on alert at all levels, at headquarters level and in coordination with the vaccine manufacturer to make the necessary doses available as quickly as possible to assist in this response." 

The possible origin of the outbreak

The origin of this new Ebola outbreak could have occurred in early February 2021 in the region of N'Zerekore, at the burial of a nurse from Gouéké who died between January 27 and 28 and was buried on February 1st in her home town. 

Eight of the people who attended the funeral showed symptoms of the disease, such as diarrhea, vomiting and bleeding. Three of them died and four others are hospitalized. Another one had to be admitted to a medical center during the last hours. 

According to information provided by the director of the National Health Agency, Sakoba Keita, this would be the ninth case of the disease in Guinea. However, unlike the others, the latest case has occurred in the town of Conakry. 

Research priority

Although samples from these patients are in the hands of investigators at the Guéckédou laboratory to try to clarify whether it is Ebola, Sakoba Keita has indicated that they are almost certain that the disease that has shaken these people is the one previously mentioned.

Although everything seems to point to the nurse's funeral as the origin of the outbreak, the authorities cannot be sure that this is exactly what happened.

For this reason, and while research continues, the priority will be to identify the contacts of those infected and to vaccinate those who have been exposed in order to interrupt the chain of transmission. 

In the same way, they will trace the route followed by the patient admitted in Conakry and the contacts they had to try to find out where the outbreak came from. 

This series of Ebola infections have occurred in a border area of Guinea, so the WHO has also stressed that it is working with health authorities in Liberia and Sierra Leone to "strengthen community surveillance of cases in their border districts, as well as to strengthen capacity for case detection testing and surveillance in health facilities". As it is also doing with Côte d'Ivoire, Mali, Senegal and other at-risk countries in the African sub-region. 

Guinea was the epicenter of an Ebola epidemic between 2014 and 2016 that ended with the lives of more than 11,000 people in West Africa. 


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