November 2015 – LIBERIA – Liberia has placed 153 people under surveillance for Ebola after three new cases emerged in the West African nation this past week, months after it had twice before been declared free of the disease. World Health Organizations (WHO) investigators were working to unlock the mystery of how a new cluster of cases emerged in Monrovia because there was no evidence yet of the usual factors, such as contact with a person suffering from Ebola, handling remains of an Ebola victim or traveling to a region where the virus is prevalent, said Margaret Harris, a spokeswoman for WHO.
There are currently no known cases in two neighboring countries that, like Liberia, have been devastated by Ebola for nearly two years. Sierra Leone was declared free of the disease earlier this month. A week ago, the last known patient with Ebola in Guinea, a 3-week-old girl, was found to have recovered. Forty-two days must pass without a new case of Ebola before a country can be declared free of the disease. More than 11,300 people have died since the virus first emerged in December of 2013.
“What we are investigating is whether there has been contact with body fluids of someone with persistent virus,” Harris said, referring to a person who has recovered from the disease but still harbors the virus in some part of the body. The Ebola virus has been detected in semen and earlier this year, an American doctor who contracted the disease while working in a hospital in Sierra Leone and then later recovered was found to have the virus still present in one of his eyes.
The new cluster of cases in Liberia emerged in a suburb of the capital city of Monrovia. A 10-year-old boy was diagnosed and then the boy’s father and brother tested positive for Ebola, according to Reuters. All three are being treated at a clinic in Monrovia. Liberia has twice before been declared Ebola free, on May 9 and then again on Sept. 3. In between, six new cases were uncovered. Two of those patients died. –USA Today