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Published On: Mon, May 2nd, 2016

Ebola ‘flare-up’: Last patients discharged, 42-day clock has begun

Liberia’s and Guinea’s last known Ebola patients in a latest flare-up of the disease that hit both countries have now been discharged. All remaining contacts of confirmed cases that were placed under a 3-week period of medical monitoring have been cleared.

Ebola virus Image/CDC

Ebola virus Image/CDC

Liberia’s Ministry of Health, WHO and partners involved in the response held a ceremony at the Ebola treatment facility in Monrovia to celebrate the recovery and discharge of a 2-year-old boy, the final patient in the flare-up in Liberia. His 5-year-old brother recovered a week earlier. On 29 April, the country also began a 42-day period of increased surveillance – amounting to two 21-day incubation cycles of the virus.

Guinea’s final Ebola patient, a 70-year-old man, tested negative for the virus a second time on 19 April and returned to his village in the southern prefecture of Macenta to a warm welcome. Guinea began its 42-day countdown on that day, and will be able to declare the flare-up over on 31 May if there are no additional cases.

In all, 8 people in Guinea’s Nzérékoré and Macenta prefectures died from Ebola and 2 survived during the flare-up. Most of the cases were from the same extended family. Liberia saw 3 confirmed cases in the latest flare-up.

Genetic sequencing from blood samples of the confirmed cases indicate the source of the virus is from a single and known transmission chain – suggesting exposure to infected body fluids from a survivor – rather than a re-introduction of Ebola virus from the wild.

WHO continuously stresses that flare-ups of Ebola like this one are likely to occur for some time, although with decreasing frequency, due to virus persistence in some survivors. It has been documented that Ebola virus can live in tissues and fluids of survivors, for well over a year.

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