EBOLA hemorrhagic virus has been confirmed in Abidjan, capital of the Ivory Coast, for the first time in 25 years – with a World Health Organization (WHO) official describing the presence of the deadly disease in a major population centre as “of immense concern”.
The news is particularly alarming coming as it does just days after a case of Marburg, a closely related disease, in Guinea, especially given the Ebola victim is also thought to have travelled from the neighbouring country. Speaking on national television, Health Minister Pierre Dimba said the isolated case related to an 18-year-old girl who had travelled across the border.
The WHO said in a statement that the Ivory Coast confirmed the country’s first case of Ebola since 1994.
A spokesman explained: “This came after the Institut Pasteur in Ivory Coast confirmed the Ebola Virus Disease in samples collected from a patient, who was hospitalised in the commercial capital of Abidjan, after arriving from Guinea.”
Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, added: “It is of immense concern that this outbreak has been declared in Abidjan, a metropolis of more than four million people.
“However, much of the world’s expertise in tackling Ebola is here on the continent and Ivory Coast can tap into this experience and bring the response to full speed.”
The WHO said initial investigations found the patient had travelled to Ivory Coast by road and arrived in Abidjan on August 12.
She was admitted to a hospital after experiencing a fever and is currently receiving treatment.
The WHO said there was no indication the current case in Ivory Coast is linked to the outbreak in Guinea earlier this year.
It said further investigation and genomic sequencing will identify the strain and determine if there was a connection.
Guinea – site of the 2014-2016 Ebola outbreak, the deadliest on record – experienced a four-month Ebola outbreak earlier this year that was declared over on June 19.
In addition, the country also confirmed the first case of Marburg virus in West Africa.
Marburg virus disease is a highly infectious haemorrhagic fever similar to Ebola.
Transmission of both deadly diseases occurs through contact with infected bodily fluids and tissue, while symptoms include headache, vomiting blood, muscle pains and bleeding.
Experts fear Marburg, which can be up to 88 percent fatal, and for which there is no known treatment or cure, could “spread far and wide”.
On Wednesday health authorities said they were monitoring 155 people who may have been in contact with the confirmed case, the World Health Organisation said.
Georges Ki-Zerbo, the WHO country head in Guinea, said: “There is no known secondary case.
“The contacts have been traced, and 155 people are under observation for three weeks.