No evidence that Ivory Coast's first-in-years Ebola patient, touted as 'cured,' actually had the dreaded disease, WHO says
The World Health Organization (WHO) has re-examined samples collected from the suspected Ebola patient detected by the West African country back in August.
"The suspected case was a young woman who traveled from Guinea to Cote d'Ivoire. Since Cote d'Ivoire announced the case more than 140 contacts have been listed in the two countries. No one else has shown symptoms for the disease or tested positive for Ebola," the UN health watchdog said in a statement.
With the new results from the laboratory in Lyon, WHO considers that the patient did not have Ebola virus disease and further analysis on the cause of her illness is ongoing.
Rather embarrassingly, the WHO's assessment of the case came just days after Ivorian health authorities touted the allegedly first-in-decades Ebola case as cured. Last week, health ministry spokesperson Serge Eholie said that the patient had been "declared cured" after medical professionals "performed on the patient two biological tests which were negative in an interval of 48 hours."
The WHO, however, stressed that Ivory Coast did the right thing to raise the alarm, saying that any suspected cases of the deadly disease must be treated in accordance with the agency's "no-regrets" policy. The ultimately false alarm triggered delivery of additional Ebola vaccines into the region, as well as the allocation of a hefty sum to help the country respond quickly to the potential health emergency.
"Around a dozen WHO experts were mobilized to support the country's efforts and 5,000 Ebola vaccine doses which WHO had helped Guinea procure were sent from Guinea to Cote d'Ivoire," the agency said. "In addition, WHO released US$500,000 from its Contingency Fund for Emergencies to support the country to initiate a quick response."
Ebola is a serious viral disease, transmitted by close contact with the blood or bodily fluids of an infected individual. It can cause liver and kidney failure, as well as severe and potentially unstoppable bleeding, both internal and external. The virus has an extremely high fatality rate of around 50% on average. According to WHO data, previous outbreaks have killed up to 90% of those infected.
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