The corpse of a 17-year-old boy has tested positive for Ebola in Liberia, the country’s deputy Health Minister said late Monday. He added that no other case had been reported.
Tolbert Nyenswah, who is also head of the country’s Ebola response, told newsmen that the teenager died June 24 in Nedowein, a town situated close to the country’s international airport, about 48 kilometres south of the capital, and was given a safe burial the next day.
Liberia had been the country hardest hit by last year’s Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The World Health Organisation, WHO, declared Liberia Ebola-free on May 9 after the country went 42 days without reporting a case.
Nyenswah said that “We have said over and over again that there was the possibility of a resurgence of the virus in Liberia. But our capacity is very strong.”
The deadly virus, which has killed over 11,100 people mostly in West Africa in its worst outbreak ever, is hanging on stubbornly in Guinea, where the Ebola outbreak was first reported in March 2014, and in Sierra Leone.
It was not known how the 17-year-old contracted Ebola. The town where the teenager died is far from the borders with Sierra Leone and Guinea, so Nyenswah said they were investigating whether his case might be linked to travel.
Specimens were taken from the corpse before burial, and the tests later came back positive.
“The only complication is that the person died before we tested the body as part of our surveillance system of testing living and dead people,” Nyenswah said.
Nyenswah said teams are already doing contact tracing in the Nedowein area. “There is no need for pandemonium; people should go about their normal business.”
He called the Ebola testing of the young man’s corpse “a success story for our surveillance system.”
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon had warned earlier this month that as long as there is one Ebola case in West Africa “all countries are at risk.”