Ebola flare-up in Liberia stokes fears over work­ers’ vig­i­lance

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH & SCIENCE -

DAKAR: A fail­ure to send a sus­pected Ebola pa­tient di­rectly to a spe­cial­ist treat­ment unit in a fresh out­break of the virus in Liberia may re­flect fa­tigue and com­pla­cency among health work­ers, a health ex­pert said yes­ter­day. Liberia has placed 153 peo­ple un­der sur­veil­lance af­ter three Ebola cases emerged on Fri­day, more than two months af­ter the West African coun­try was de­clared free of the virus. The first of the new pa­tients was 15-year-old Nathan Gbotoe from Pay­nesville, a sub­urb east of the cap­i­tal Mon­rovia, and his fa­ther and brother have since been con­firmed as pos­i­tive. The teenager went to sev­eral health cen­ters be­fore be­ing re­ferred to an Ebola treat­ment unit and sev­eral health work­ers who cared for him may have not worn pro­tec­tive equip­ment, said Medecins Sans Fron­tieres (MSF) rep­re­sen­ta­tive Carissa Guild.

“Nor­mally with a sur­veil­lance sys­tem, if some­one has signs and symp­toms (of Ebola) they would not be hos­pi­tal­ized but im­me­di­ately sent to an Ebola treat­ment cen­tre to be tested.” “There were no cases for a while and Liberia was near­ing the end of a 90-day pe­riod of height­ened sur­veil­lance... it is quite pos­si­ble that peo­ple were tired and got com­pla­cent,” Guild said. Ebola symp­toms can be sim­i­lar to other dis­eases, es­pe­cially in the early stages of in­fec­tion, mak­ing it cru­cial to iden­tify and con­tain any flare-ups rapidly, said Adam Kucharski, a lec­turer at the Lon­don School of Hy­giene and Trop­i­cal Medicine.

It is not known how Gbotoe, who died of Ebola late on Monday and is the first such fa­tal­ity for months in Liberia, was in­fected but in­ves­ti­ga­tions are un­der way. Cross-bor­der trans­mis­sion ap­pears un­likely as Guinea has no cases and Sierra Leone was de­clared Ebola-free on Nov 7 af­ter 42 days with­out a case. Liberia has twice been de­clared Ebola-free, in May and Septem­ber, only for new cases to emerge, and the lat­est flare-up should be a warn­ing to Guinea and Sierra Leone to re­main vig­i­lant, the United Na­tions chil­dren’s agency UNICEF said.

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