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WHO’s ‘immense concern’ over Ivorian Ebola outbreak

Ivory Coast’s first recorded case of Ebola in more than 25 year is of “immense concern”, the World Health Organization (WHO) says.

The West African nation’s health ministry said the case was detected in the commercial capital, Abidjan.

The 18-year-old woman, who is being treated in hospital for the virus, had recently arrived from Guinea, which experienced a four-month long outbreak of Ebola earlier this year.

The WHO says further investigation is needed to identify the strain and determine if there is a connection between the two outbreaks

“It is of immense concern that this outbreak has been declared in Abidjan, a metropolis of more than four million people,” said Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO’s regional director for Africa.

Ivory Coast was one of six countries the WHO had supported recently to beef up Ebola readiness, he said. “This quick diagnosis shows preparedness is paying off,” said Dr Moeti.

Between 2013 and 2016 more than 11,000 people died in the Ebola epidemic that affected Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

In response, vaccines were developed and were later used to fight outbreaks in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Guinea.

About 5,000 Ebola vaccines doses sent to fight the outbreak in Guinea are now being transferred to Ivory Coast.

What is Ebola?

  • It is a virus that initially causes sudden fever, intense weakness, muscle pain and a sore throat – progressing to vomiting, diarrhoea and both internal and external bleeding
  • Ebola jumps to humans from infected animals, such as chimpanzees, fruit bats and forest antelopes. Bushmeat – non-domesticated forest animals hunted for human consumption – is thought to be the natural reservoir of the Ebola virus
  • It then spreads between humans by direct contact with infected blood, bodily fluids or organs, or indirectly through contact with contaminated environments
  • Patients tend to die from dehydration and multiple organ failure

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