Ebola Returns To Liberia: Could It Spread?

Ebola Returns To Liberia: Could It Spread?Almost two months after Liberia was declared Ebola-free, the disease has cropped up again — this time in a rural town outside the capital city. So far, there's only one new case, but health officials are rushing to stop its spread.Deputy health minister Tolbert Nyenswah said tests confirmed that the teenager from Nedowein village, near the international airport, had died of the disease on 28 June.

"There is no need to panic. The corpse has been buried, and our contact tracing has started work," Nyenswah told Reuters. Health officials have already started quarantining homes near where the body was found.

But there are a few reasons why the case is worrisome. First, it’s unclear how the boy got infected—he reportedly had not been to Guinea or Sierra Leone, nor is he thought to have been in contact with anyone visiting from those countries, making it all the more mysterious how the virus found a foothold again in Liberia.Second, health officials didn't know the teenager had Ebola until after he died. So he could have unwittingly spread the disease to his family and caretakers.

Finally, many international aid groups have left Liberia since cases plummeted to zero back in March. The case will test Liberia's ability to stop an outbreak largely on its own.The World Health Organization declared the country Ebola-free May 9. But neighboring countries Guinea and Sierra Leone are still struggling to stop the virus. Last week, the two countries reported 20 cases total, the WHO said.

More than 11,000 people have died of the disease since December 2013, the vast majority of them in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. 
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