Kigali – The World Health Organisation (WHO) said Tuesday that a second suspected case of infection by the deadly Ebola virus had been detected in Ivory Coast, reported Anadolu Agency.
It comes days after the government and the WHO confirmed an Ebola outbreak in the country’s largest city, Abidjan, involving an 18-year-old girl hospitalised due to the virus after arriving from neighboring Guinea.
WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said that as of Monday, there had been one confirmed and one suspected case, with nine contacts identified so far and no deaths reported.
The WHO said Ivory Coast has been able to quickly begin vaccination with an Ebola vaccine manufactured by US pharmaceutical company Merck after receiving doses from Guinea for high-risk populations, including frontline health workers and contacts of the confirmed case, in Abidjan, where an Ebola outbreak was declared on Aug 14.
“The Ebola vaccine is an essential tool in the fight against the virus, so the top priority is to act quickly and start protecting people at high risk from the disease,” said Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.
“The speed at which Ivory Coast has accelerated vaccination is remarkable and shows that with effective sub-regional solidarity, we can quickly take action to quell deadly infections that can potentially become large epidemics.”
Guinea had previously experienced a four-month Ebola outbreak this year which left 12 people dead.
The WHO said it will carry out genomic sequencing to identify the strain of the virus to determine whether there is a connection between the two outbreaks.
Ivory Coast announced Monday that it had launched a mass awareness campaign in response to the Ebola outbreak in the country.
To support Ivory Coast’s efforts to combat the outbreak – the first since 1994 – the WHO announced the deployment of experts to join their counterparts based in the West African country.
This would strengthen infection prevention and control, diagnosis, contact case monitoring, treatment, community mobilisation and cross-border surveillance.
The Ebola virus is transmitted through close contact with bodily fluids. The symptoms include severe fever and, in the worst cases, unstoppable bleeding.
The epidemic in Ivory Coast is the third on the continent this year after those in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Guinea.