Ebola spreads in Liberia as Govt confirms new case

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A member of the French Red Cross disinfects the area around a motionless person suspected of carrying the Ebola virus as a crowd gathers in Forecariah January 30, 2015.   REUTERS/Misha Hussain
A member of the French Red Cross disinfects the area around a motionless person suspected of carrying the Ebola virus as a crowd gathers in Forecariah January 30, 2015. REUTERS/Misha Hussain

By James Giahyue

MONROVIA (Reuters) – A Liberian woman has died of Ebola in a hospital in Monrovia shortly after being admitted, becoming the sixth confirmed case and second death since the virus resurfaced last month, a senior medical official said on Tuesday

The victim, Kebbeh Kollie, lived near the capital, Monrovia. She was the sister of Cassius Kollie, one of five Ebola cases discovered in neighbouring Margibi County, where the disease re-emerged after a seven-week lull.

Her detection raised fears that the infection may be spreading in the Montserrado County area of Liberia, which includes the capital.

More than 11,200 people have died from Ebola since an epidemic broke out in December 2013 in neighbouring Guinea. Liberia was declared Ebola-free on May 9 but reported a new case nearly two months later. The outbreak is also still active in Sierra Leone and Guinea.

“There is one new case,” Liberia’s chief medical officer, Dr. Francis Kateh, told Reuters. “This time, the response area is Montserrado county. The person died in Monrovia.”

A health report sent to officials in the anti-Ebola response unit said the woman died a few hours after admission, indicating that surveillance of known contacts from the earlier cases had not been rigorous enough.

A Reuters witness saw 16 people under quarantine in the Kollie family’s unfinished house next to marshland in the A.B. Tolbert community.

Her mother told Reuters that Kebbeh Kollie had been in contact with her brother Cassius when he returned to the family home to cut the grass, but he was not showing any signs of the virus then.

Cassius Kollie is one of four people being treated for Ebola at a specialised treatment unit in the ELWA hospital in Monrovia. The first detected case in the current resurgence, 17-year-old Abraham Memaigar, died before his infection was confirmed.

Neighbours voiced sympathy for the Kollie family in their quarantine but also concern over the spread of the disease.

“Their daughter has died and now someone there could be sick,” said Junior Flomo. “I am afraid for myself and my family. Family came to visit them and now someone has died of Ebola. That could happen to us, too.”

Health officials say the virus probably remained latent in Liberia during the lull and could have been reactivated by a survivor, via sexual transmission.

 

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