Authorities in Liberia confirmed Tuesday that a teenager had died of Ebola, raising fears that the West African country could face a new outbreak nearly two months after it was declared free of the virus.
The body of a 17-year-old boy was tested Sunday and found to be positive for Ebola, Deputy Health Minister Tolbert Nyenswah told reporters.
“There is no need to panic,” Nyenswah was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency. The youth was safely buried the same day and no other cases have been identified so far.
Authorities are trying to determine how the teen became infected and tracing anyone who may have come into contact with him after he became sick, Nyenswah said.
Ebola is spread through direct contact with the bodily fluids of its victims and is especially contagious in corpses.
Liberia was the country hardest-hit when Ebola started spreading in West Africa at the end of 2013, accounting for more than 4,800 of the 11,220 fatalities recorded by the World Health Organization.
It was declared free of the virus on May 9 after going 42 days without a case, but international health officials cautioned that Liberia would not be in the clear until Ebola is stamped out across the region.
The new case was identified in Margibi County, an area close to Liberia’s capital, Monrovia, but far from its borders with Guinea and Sierra Leone, where Ebola continues to spread.
Two homes have been placed under quarantine, Nyenswah told the Associated Press. Protective measures have also been strengthened at the country’s international airport, which is also located in Margibi.
There were 20 confirmed cases of Ebola reported in Sierra Leone and Guinea in the week ending June 21, the WHO said. At the peak of the outbreak last year, hundreds of cases were being identified each week.
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