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Tuesday, June 28, 2022

New Ebola case identified in Cote d’Ivoire

The Ebola virus has been detected in a patient in Cote d’Ivoire, that country’s first confirmed case in a quarter century, as health officials in West African nations keep a wary eye out for the deadly disease.

The patient checked into a hospital in Abidjan, the largest city, late last week, after arriving from neighboring Guinea. The patient is receiving treatment after a blood sample showed evidence of the virus, the World Health Organization said in a statement.

The WHO said it is transferring 5,000 doses of vaccines against the Ebola virus from Guinea to Cote d’Ivoire, to head off any potential outbreak there. Health officials will be concerned about the prospects of the virus spreading in Abidjan, a city of nearly 5 million residents.

“Much of the world’s expertise in tackling Ebola is here on the continent and Cote d’Ivoire can tap into this experience and bring the response to full speed,” said Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO’s regional director for Africa.

Cote d’Ivoire shares a border with Liberia and Guinea, two nations hit hard by the Ebola virus in an outbreak that lasted from 2013 to 2016. The virus did not cross the porous border into Cote d’Ivoire then, in part because the eastern provinces of Liberia and Guinea were less hard-hit than areas farther west, away from the border.

But world health officials and Cote d’Ivoire itself prepared the country for a substantial outbreak in case the virus arrived, both then and in recent years. WHO staff are investigating the patient’s travels and contacts, in hopes of quickly identifying any new cases before a substantial outbreak begins.

Guinea suffered a four-month outbreak of Ebola earlier this year, one the WHO declared over in mid-June. Health officials said there is no evidence that the current patient’s case is connected to that earlier outbreak. They pledged to genetically sequence the virus found in the patient’s samples to identify a potential connection.

Only one person has ever been diagnosed with the Ebola virus in Cote d’Ivoire, a Swiss graduate student who came down with a strain now called the Tai Forest Virus in 1994. The Swiss student, the only person ever diagnosed with that virus, survived.

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