A member of Doctors Without Borders (MSF) putting on protective gear at the isolation ward of the Donka Hospital in Conakry.(File Photo / AFP)
A member of Doctors Without Borders (MSF) putting on protective gear at the isolation ward of the Donka Hospital in Conakry.(File Photo / AFP)

Ebola outbreak in Guinea: Why is it a huge concern? Who is 'patient zero'?

While the ongoing pandemic has already stretched the health resources around the globe, the Ebola outbreak has prompted the WHO to rush assistance to Guinea.
By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Kunal Gaurav, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON FEB 15, 2021 03:42 PM IST

Health authorities in Guinea declared a resurgence of Ebola outbreak in the west African nation after seven cases of the viral disease and four related deaths were confirmed on Sunday. While the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic has already stretched the health resources around the globe, the Ebola outbreak has prompted the World Health Organization (WHO) to rush assistance to Guinea.

Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO’s regional director for Africa, said in a statement that the virus outbreak in Guinea is a huge concern, given the country has “already suffered so much from the disease.” “However, banking on the expertise and experience built during the previous outbreak, health teams in Guinea are on the move to quickly trace the path of the virus and curb further infections,” Moeti added.

What’s the source of the fresh outbreak?

Guinea health chief Sakoba Keita informed that a nurse from a local health facility near the Liberian border in southeastern Guinea died on January 28, 2021, and some people who attended her burial began to have “symptoms of diarrhoea, vomiting, bleeding and fever a few days later.”

Some samples from those patients were tested in a laboratory, set up in the same region by the European Union, which established that the patients were infected with Ebola virus. But the experts are yet to determine the patient zero while an investigation has been ordered to determine the home villages of all who attended the funeral ceremony of the nurse in order to carry out contact tracing.

"The WHO is on full alert and is in contact with the manufacturer (of a vaccine) to ensure the necessary doses are made available as quickly as possible to help fight back," the global health body’s representative Alfred George Ki-Zerbo told a press briefing.

Read | New diseases deadlier than Covid-19 could hit humans: Doctor who discovered Ebola warns

Why Ebola outbreak a “huge concern”?

Ebola virus disease (EVD) often proves fatal for humans if untreated, with an average case fatality rate around 50 per cent and has varied from 25 per cent to 90 per cent in past outbreaks. The virus transmission takes place from wild animals to humans and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission.

The virus first appeared in two simultaneous outbreaks in 1976 in South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The virus outbreak in DRC occurred in a village near Ebola river, from where the disease takes its name.

The last major Ebola outbreak started in 2014, which emerged in Guinea and then moved across borders to Sierra Leone and Liberia. During the outbreak, more than 11,000 patients out of around 28,000 with detected Ebola cases lost their lives.

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