Guinea health officials confirmed that at least five people died from Ebola this week in the country. The recent infections appeared after a period of five years when the West African country ended its deadliest Ebola outbreak. An additional four people were confirmed to have the Ebola virus as well. According to Guinea’s ministry of health, all nine positive patients had attended a funeral of a nurse in Goueke on Feb 1 and later showed Ebola symptoms. The ministry statement said all nine patients presented symptoms including diarrhea, vomiting, and high fever.
Guinea’s Previous Ebola Outbreak
Guinea’s announcement came just a week after eastern Congo confirmed cases of the Ebola virus as well. Health Minister Remy Lamah told the associated press that he could confirm the infections were caused by the Ebola virus as the results proved it. When some of the patients went to the hospital, they got tested for Ebola after showing hemorrhagic fever symptoms. So far, those who had come into contact with the sick have already been taken into isolation. Additionally, emergency teams were sent to support the local teams in Goueke. Guinea has also accelerated the procurement of Ebola vaccines from the World Health Organization.
During Guinea’s previous outbreak, almost 2,500 died where the outbreak began. Additionally, more than 11,300 people died in that outbreak as it spread into neighboring countries of Sierra Leone and Liberia between 2014 and 2016. Health experts have said the latest case announcement could prove to be a significant setback for Guinea. The country is currently battling COVID-19 and is still recovering from the previous Ebola outbreak. The experts advise the government not to take the virus’s resurgence lightly as it could cause significant harm to the economy, people, and the health infrastructure. To contain the virus, medical professionals have advised the government and international health organizations to respond quickly and educate communities about what is going on.
Origin of Previous Ebola Pandemic in Guinea
One of the major reasons the previous outbreak became so deadly in Guinea was that it was not detected early enough. Additionally, the local authorities and the international community responded slowly when the cases first popped up in Guinea’s rural parts. Patient zero during the first outbreak was an 18-month-old boy from a small village. At the time, health officials believed the boy got infected by bats after the case was reported in December 2013. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it took weeks before an alert was issued about the boy. By the time news broke out, the virus had already spread, and it took years to end it.
The origin of the new infections is still unknown to the authorities in Guinea. But all the new infections announced have come from the same region of Nzerekore. This region was the same place where the previous outbreak had started. Residents of the area have expressed their worry over the news of the cases. The locals state they fear the country won’t be able to cope with another outbreak.
Medical experts in Guinea hope the availability of the Ebola vaccine will help quickly control the new outbreak. They say a quick response will be required as the Ebola virus spreads fast. Ebola is transmitted from corpses who were positive or through direct contact with bodily fluid from someone showing Ebola symptoms.