Liberia confirms Ebola case two months after being declared free of the disease

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: (Published 02 July 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h3620
  1. Anne Gulland
  1. 1London

Ebola virus disease has returned to Liberia, two months after the country was declared free of it, the World Health Organization has confirmed.

On 29 June routine surveillance detected a confirmed case of the disease in the coastal Margibi County, the first new confirmed case in the country since 20 March.

The patient was a 17 year old man who first became ill on 21 June. He went to a local health facility and was treated for malaria and then discharged but died on 28 June.

An oral swab taken before the burial tested positive for Ebola virus. The source of the infection is at present unknown, and the patient had no history of recent travel, contact with visitors from affected areas, or attendance at a funeral. Some 102 contacts have been identified and are being followed up.

In a statement Liberia’s health minister, Bernice Dhan, said, “Although this was not the situation we were hoping for, this incident demonstrates that our alert systems are working. The structures we have in place to strengthen our surveillance systems in Liberia allowed us to respond quickly. It is critical that the Liberian people remain vigilant and continue all prevention measures to stop the spread of Ebola.”

A second case of the disease in Liberia has been reported in the media but has not yet been confirmed by WHO officials.

Liberia was declared free of Ebola virus disease on 8 May after reporting no new cases of the disease for 42 days. Meanwhile, the epidemic continues in neighbouring Sierra Leone and Guinea, which have reported around 20 cases between them every week for the past five weeks. The cases in Guinea are concentrated in three prefectures, and in Sierra Leone the cases are all known contacts.

The number of cases in the three most affected countries of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone now totals 27 443, including 11 220 deaths.


Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h3620


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