A case of Ebola virus has been confirmed in Cote d'Ivoire for the first time since 1994, the country's Ministry of Health has confirmed. The World Health Organization (WHO) is coordinating the delivery of vaccines to the country.
In a statement released on Saturday, the Cote d'Ivoire country office of the WHO said that the virus was found in samples collected from a patient who was hospitalized in the commercial capital of Abidjan, after arriving from Guinea.
Initial investigations found that the patient had travelled to Cote d'Ivoire by road and arrived in Abidjan on 12 August. The patient was admitted to hospital after experiencing a fever and is currently receiving treatment.
Earlier this year, Guinea experienced a four-month long Ebola outbreak, which was declared over on the 19 June 2021. The WHO said that there is currently no indication that the current case in Cote d'Ivoire is linked to the Guinea outbreak, but added that further investigation will identify the strain, and determine if there is a connection between the two outbreaks.
This year Ebola outbreaks have been declared in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Guinea, but it is the first time an outbreak has occurred in a large capital city such as Abidjan since the 2014-2016 West Ebola outbreak.
"It is of immense concern that this outbreak has been declared in Abidjan, a metropolis of more than 4 million people," said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa. "However, much of the world's expertise in tackling Ebola is here on the continent and Cote d'Ivoire can tap into this experience and bring the response to full speed. The country is one of the six that WHO has supported recently to beef up their Ebola readiness and this quick diagnosis shows preparedness is paying off."
WHO is helping to coordinate cross-border Ebola response activities, and 5000 Ebola vaccines doses which the organization helped secure to fight the outbreak in Guinea are now being transferred to Cote d'Ivoire, following an agreement between the ministries of health of Cote d'Ivoire and Guinea. People at high risk, including health workers, first responders and contacts of confirmed cases, will be prioritised for vaccination.
Ebola is a severe, often fatal illness affecting humans and other primates. Fatality rates have varied from 25% to 90% in past outbreaks; there is now effective treatment available and if patients receive treatment early, as well as supportive care, their chances of survival improve significantly.
Cote d'Ivoire declared the outbreak in line with International Health Regulations and WHO does not advise any travel restrictions to and from the country.