Ivory Coast has confirmed its first Ebola case in 25 years. In a statement issued by the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it confirmed that Ebola was identified in an 18-year-old woman who had travelled from Labe in neighbouring Guinea to Côte d’Ivoire’s commercial capital of Abidjan. The woman is currently being treated in hospital.
The Institut Pasteur de Côte d’Ivoire confirmed on Saturday, 14 August that samples collected from the patient contained the Ebola virus. She had been hospitalised two days earlier with a high-grade fever.
She is currently in isolation and under the care of the treatment centre for highly epidemic diseases at the Treichville University hospital.
In a press release issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) in Africa, regional director Dr Matshidiso Moeti said, “It is of immense concern that this outbreak has been declared in Abidjan, a metropolis of more than 4 million people. However, much of the world’s expertise in tackling Ebola is here on the continent and Côte d’Ivoire can tap into this experience and bring the response to full speed.
“The country is one of the six that WHO has supported recently to beef up their Ebola readiness and this quick diagnosis shows preparedness is paying off.”
No border closures
Côte d’Ivoire declared the outbreak in line with the WHO International Health Regulations and the organisation has not advised any travel restrictions to and from the country.
While Côte d’Ivoire borders Guinea and Liberia, both of whom had been struck hard by the 2014–2016 West Africa Ebola outbreak, the country has had no confirmed cases of the disease reported since 1994. In that year, an outbreak in chimpanzees had infected a scientist.
Outbreaks in Guinea and DRC
Earlier this year, Ebola outbreaks have been declared in Guinea and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) but it is the first time since West Ebola that an outbreak has occurred in a large capital city such as Abidjan.
Guinea’s most recent outbreak of four months was declared over in June this year.
There is currently no indication that the case in Côte d’Ivoire is linked to the earlier outbreak in Guinea. “Further investigation and genomic sequencing will identify the strain and determine if there is a connection between the two outbreaks,” the WHO said in its statement.
Guinea had also confirmed the first case of Marburg virus disease in West Africa this week. the Marburg virus is seen as a highly infectious haemorrhagic cousin of Ebola.
The WHO said it was helping to coordinate cross-border Ebola response activities. A total of 5,000 Ebola vaccine doses, which the organisation had helped secure to fight the outbreak in Guinea, are now being transferred to Côte d’Ivoire following an agreement between the ministries of health of the two countries.
“An aircraft is departing Abidjan soon to collect the vaccines, which will be used to vaccinate people at high risk, including health workers, first responders and contacts of confirmed cases.”
Readiness amid Covid-19
While countries are focused on their Covid-19 response, the WHO cautioned that they should also strengthen their preparedness for potential Ebola cases.
The organisation further warned that Ebola is a severe, often fatal illness affecting humans and other primates. Case fatality rates have varied from 25% to 90% in past outbreaks.
“There is now effective treatment available and if patients receive treatment early, as well as supportive care, their chances of survival improve significantly.”
WHO staff based in Côte d’Ivoire are supporting the investigation into the case. In addition, a multidisciplinary team of WHO experts covering all key response areas will be deployed rapidly to the field.
They will help with ramping up infection prevention and control of health facilities, diagnostics, contact tracing, treatment and reaching out to communities to ensure they take a key role in the response.