Hundreds receive experimental Ebola vaccine as flare-ups persist in Guinea, Liberia
Hundreds of people have received an experimental Ebola vaccine in a bid to contain a recent flare-up of the virus in Guinea.
Meanwhile, WHO reported a new positive case of Ebola, resulting in a death, in neighboring Liberia — that country’s first flare-up since one ended in mid-January.
According to WHO’s Guinea office, nearly 800 residents there have been vaccinated during the past week, including 182 considered to be high-risk contacts of a patient infected by the virus.
The news came just days after WHO downgraded the Ebola situation in West Africa, saying it no longer constituted a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. The worst Ebola outbreak in history, which began in December 2013 and killed more than 11,300 people, was declared over in January, but WHO has continued to warn of flare-ups.
In March, officials confirmed the first new cases of Ebola in Guinea since the country was declared free of transmission in December. Liberia now has seen three flare-ups since its original Ebola outbreak was declared over on May 9, 2015.
According to WHO, which published a story about the vaccinations on its website, the flare-up in Guinea involves eight cases and seven deaths since late February. Six of those deaths occurred in three generations of the same family.
The vaccine being administered in Guinea, VSV-EBOV, was highly effective in preventing Ebola infection in a large trial last year, WHO reported. It also was used to contain a recent flare-up in Sierra Leone.
Blood sample tests from the flare-up in Guinea confirm that the cluster of Ebola stems from a known transmission chain and not one introduced by the animal population, according to WHO. The agency has said that Guinea, along with Liberia and Sierra Leone, reported interrupting the original chain of virus transmission. Guinea was the last to reach the benchmark on March 27, WHO said.
According to Chris Dye, FMedSci, senior epidemiologist for WHO in the Ebola response, the recent flare-ups have probably come from Ebola survivors who no longer have symptoms but are still carrying the virus, in semen, for example.
“When a survivor passes on the virus through sexual transmission or by some other means,” Dye told Infectious Disease News, “it is a reintroduction of the virus, stemming from the original known transmission chains of the 2014-2015 outbreak.”
In Liberia, lab results confirmed the new case of Ebola in a woman, aged 30 years, who died on March 31 while being transferred to a hospital in Monrovia, according to WHO. – by Gerard Gallagher
Disclosures: Infectious Disease News was unable to confirm relevant financial disclosures at the time of publication.