The UN health agency said Tuesday that a second suspected case of infection by the deadly Ebola virus has been detected in Ivory Coast, expressing fear of contagion.
The World Health Organization spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said that as of Monday, there had been one confirmed and one suspected case, with nine contacts identified so far. No deaths have been reported.
He said the WHO was “very concerned” about the ability of the virus to spread in the West African country’s economic hub Abidjan.
Ebola, which is transmitted through close contact with bodily fluids, causes severe fever and, in the worst cases, unstoppable bleeding.
The confirmed case has been identified as an 18-year-old from Guinea who traveled overland, arriving in Abidjan on August 11 aboard a bus. When she left Guinea, she was already exhibiting symptoms that continued to intensify.
She was admitted to a hospital on August 12 with a fever and is currently receiving treatment.
“Preliminary investigations and genomic sequencing to identify the strain show that it is likely the Zaire strain of the virus,” Jasarevic told AFP. “Further investigations are required to confirm these early results.”
That strain was behind a four-month-long Ebola outbreak that claimed 12 lives in Guinea earlier this year, which was declared over on June 19.
The same strain killed more than 11,300 people mostly in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone between 2013 and 2016.
Jasarevic said there was “no indication” that the case in Ivory Coast was linked to the cases in Guinea.
Ivory Coast began vaccinating high-risk populations within 48 hours of the report of the confirmed case.
WHO vaccine doses positioned in Guinea have now been moved to Ivory Coast. There are now 5,000 doses in the country — 3,000 doses of a Johnson & Johnson vaccine and 2,000 doses of a Merck jab.
Experts are using the so-called ring vaccination strategy, administering doses to people who have come into contact with a confirmed Ebola patient, as well as first responders and health workers.
The Ebola case in Ivory Coast is the third this year after the Democratic Republic of Congo and Guinea.
It is the first known case of Ebola in the Ivory Coast since 1994.