Just seven days after the confirmation of an unexpected new case of Ebola that emerged in Liberia, the country's only confirmed Ebola patient has died.
The Head of Liberia’s Incident Management System (IMS), Tolbert Nyensuah, said the patient died on March 27 at the Monrovia Medical Unit jointly run by the Ministry of Health and the United States Public Health Services.
Nyensuah was speaking on March 29, 2015, during a special news conference at the IMS headquarters in Monrovia.
Mr. Nyensuah said the patient presented to the Redemption Hospital Emergency Triage on March 19 with a fever and reported fatigue and diarrhea.
The Assistant Health Minister for Preventive Services at the Ministry of Health said the patient's blood was analyzed, which confirmed the deadly disease on March 20, after which the patient was transferred to the Monrovia Medical Unit.
Minister Tolbert Nyensuah disclosed that it has been nine days since the last new Ebola case, and there are no other known cases of infection in the country.
He noted that all 211 contacts known to have associated with the last patient are accounted for and undergoing twenty-one days of observation to detect any possible chain of transmission.
The government is working from the theory that the victim contracted Ebola through sexual intercourse with an Ebola survivor who claimed to have abstained from sex for over 100 days. The Liberian government recommends Ebola survivors abstain from unprotected sex for at least 90 days.
According to Nyensuah, the government's community engagement is very high in the wake of this case, noting surveillance systems remain fully functional and ready to isolate suspected cases in all the fifteen counties in the country.
Robert Kpadeh, Deputy Information Minister for Technical Services at the Ministry of Information Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT), told a government news conference on March 30 that Liberia is not off the hook and Liberians still need to face Ebola to the end.
Kpadeh said the government did everything it could to restore the woman to health and regrets the sudden death of the patient. Kapdeh reminded Liberians that Ebola can emerge unexpectedly, and called on citizens to stay protected.
Minister Nyensuah stated that previous data indicated that sexual transmission of Ebola is possible. The latest case indicates that sexual transmission may have occurred, but that remains unproven. Additional test are being undertaken to investigate this possibility further.
Meanwhile, the government of Liberia has reaffirmed that Ebola survivors should abstain from sex or maintain consistent condom use for a minimum period.
"For greater security, public health good, and prevention of sexually transmitted infections, Ebola survivors should use condom for all sexual acts beyond three months until more information is available,’’ said Minister Nyensuah.
With no active cases of infection, Liberia once again starts counting down 42 days. According to World Health Organization standards, if that period passes without any new infections, Liberia may finally be declared virus free.
Ebola virus photo from Wikipedia Commons.