Ivory Coast Declares First Ebola Outbreak After More Than 25 Years 
ebola ivory coast
WHO is helping to coordinate cross-border Ebola response activities and procure Ebola vaccines from Guinea.

The Ivory Coast has confirmed this Sunday its first case of Ebola since 1994 – in a case that was apparently imported from Guinea. That is despite the fact that Guinea’s outbreak was formally declared as over by WHO in June – reflecting the way the deadly virus can lie dormant in some individuals, only to erupt at a later date.

Ivorian health officials found samples of Ebola virus disease from a patient who was hospitalized in the commercial capital of Abidjan, after arriving from Guinea. The patient had travelled to the Ivory coast by road, arriving in the city on 12 August. The patient has since been admitted to the hospital after experiencing a fever and is currently receiving treatment. 

Neighboring Guinea had recently experienced a four-month outbreak of Ebola, in which there were 16 confirmed and 7 probable cases reported, and among these cases, 12 deaths. Although the outbreak was supposed to have concluded in June, recent evidence has documented how infections can linger asymptomatically in some people for months, and even years – only to reappear at a later date.   

The Ivory Coast is the third country to experience an Ebola outbreak in 2021, following on from Guinea and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), whose outbreak in the eastern province of North Kivu also was quickly squashed with a vaccine drive and declared over in May

But this is the first time an outbreak has occurred in a large capital city such as Abidjan since the 2014-2016 West African Ebola outbreak. That, WHO has said, is a big concern because of the potential for just one individual to infect others in close proximity.

“It is of immense concern that this outbreak has been declared in Abidjan, a metropolis of more than 4 million people,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa. 

Immediate WHO Response 

Despite this, Moeti remains confident that Africa’s hard-earned lessons in treating Ebola cases and tracking contacts will prove effective once more in containing the deadly disease. 

“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,” she said in a press statement. ” The country is one of the six that WHO has supported recently to beef up their Ebola readiness and this quick diagnosis shows preparedness is paying off.”

WHO is helping to coordinate cross-border Ebola response activities, with 5000 Ebola vaccine doses that were used to fight the outbreak in Guinea now being transferred to the Ivory Coast, following an agreement between the countries’ health ministries. 

An aircraft will be departing Abidjan to collect the vaccines that will be used to immunise people at high risk, including health workers, first responders, and contacts of the confirmed case and any others that emerge. 

The Ivory Coast has declared an outbreak in line with the International Health Regulations, and WHO currently does not advise any travel restrictions to and from the country, the Organization said.

Image Credits: WHO AFRO/Twitter.

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