Health officials in Liberia panicked in late November after a teenaged boy stumbled into a Monrovia hospital showing clear signs of a fresh Ebola infection.
Ebola hasn’t been in the news much lately, but that doesn’t mean the disease is gone for good. According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, a fresh case of Ebola was reported by nurses in Monrovia, Liberia, in late November.
The first new case was reported in a teenage boy who was suffering from a fever, convulsions, and oral bleeding. As he walked into a hospital in downtown Monrovia, hospital workers scrambled to sound the alarm to government officials that the dreaded Ebola outbreak was indeed still ongoing.
Liberia has not fared well in the massive Ebola outbreak that struck central and west Africa in recent years. The nation has lost 4,800 citizens due to the disease, and was declared Ebola-free twice this year before new cases emerged.
The World Health Organization (WHO) characterizes a country as Ebola-free when 42 days pass without a new report of the infection. Along with Liberia, the countries of Sierra Leone and Guinea have suffered massive casualties from the hemorrhagic fever. Overall, the recent outbreak has killed over 11,300 people.
Now, researchers fear that infected patients can continue to spread the disease for months or even years. It can remain in a survivor’s bodily fluids including semen, breast milk, spinal fluid, and inner-eye fluid for months longer than once believed. Even though another large-scale outbreak remains unlikely in the eyes of world health officials, scientists fear that isolated instances of Ebola could cause pain and suffering for years to come.
Liberia isn’t the best equipped to deal with a full-scale outbreak of one of the deadliest contagious diseases still around; its gross domestic product is roughly $900, and government officials are growing increasingly worried that another outbreak would devastate their ability to provide healthcare at all.
While the outlook for Liberia is not great, the massive Ebola outbreak that struck Africa recently is under control compared to this time last year. The spread of the disease has largely tapered off, and isolated reports of infected people remain the primary concern for health officials.
A press release from the CDC describing the most recent outbreak in Liberia can be found here.