Guinea declares first Ebola outbreak since 2016 after confirming 7 new cases linked to a funeral

  • Guinea declared an outbreak of Ebola Sunday the country’s first reports of the virus since 2016.
  • Three people have died, among seven confirmed cases of Ebola in connection with a nurse’s funeral.
  • The Guinean Ministry of Health says it has isolated the survivors and started contact tracing.
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Guinea has declared an Ebola outbreak for the first time since 2016, when a two-year outbreak in West Africa finally ended after killing more than 11,000 people.

The new eruption in the town of Gouécké has already killed three – two women and one man. They were among seven people who attended a nurse’s funeral on Feb. 1 and later came down with diarrhea, vomiting and bleeding. All seven cases have now been confirmed as Ebola virus.

The four people still alive have been isolated and contact tracing has begun, Guinea’s health ministry, the Agence Nationale de Sécurité Sanitaire (ANSS), said in a statement. Facebook posts on Sunday.

Ebola can cause fever, soreness and fatigue before it develops into “wet” symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea and bleeding. On average, the mortality rate is around 50%.

The virus is spread through body fluids from a sick or recently deceased person. Certain body fluids, such as semen, can still transmit the virus after an infected person has recovered from their illness, according to American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Infected animals, such as bats or primates, can transmit the virus to humans and trigger new outbreaks.

“The resurgence of Ebola is very worrying for what it could do for the people, the economy, the health infrastructure,” Dr. Krutika Kuppalli, an Assistant Professor of Infectious Diseases Medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina, told The Associated Press.

“We still understand the consequences of the (last) outbreak on the population,” she added.

Kuppalli was the medical director of an Ebola treatment unit in Sierra Leone during the 2014-2016 outbreak, which began in Guinea and then spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone. More than 28,000 people contracted the virus in those years, according to CDC.

This is West Africa’s first outbreak since then. The Guinean government says it is in a hurry to stop the resurgence, build a new Ebola treatment center and speed up the distribution of the Ebola vaccine.

Health workers walk inside a new cemetery for Ebola victims on the outskirts of Monrovia, Liberia, on March 11, 2015.

Abbas Dulleh / AP

“The government reassures the citizens that all measures will be taken to curb this epidemic as soon as possible,” ANSS said in its Facebook post.

Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, Regional Director of the World Health Organization for Africa, said on Twitter that she was “very concerned” about the new outbreak and that the WHO also “increased efforts for preparedness and response.”

Since 2016, there have been only new Ebola outbreaks in the Democratic Republic of Congo, including one that was particularly fatal from summer 2018 to summer 2020. More than 2,000 people died during that resurgence.

Congo reported another outbreak of the virus last week. It appears to be independent of Guinea’s new cases.

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