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WHO: Ebola outbreak in Africa that killed 9 'originated from human form'

Health & Science
 A health worker from the Guinean Ministry of Health hands over a syringe with an anti-Ebola vaccine. [AFP]

The outbreak, which is the first since 2016, is believed to have been triggered by a "persistent" human source, the WHO said today. It is believe at least 18 people have so far been infected

At least nine people have died following an outbreak of Ebola in Guinea.

The outbreak, which is the first since 2016, is believed to have been triggered by a "persistent" human source, the WHO said today.

It is believe at least 18 people have so far been infected, according to the Daily Star.

The human source may have contracted the virus during the last outbreak, which started in 2013 and lasted three years.

Guinea confirmed an outbreak of Ebola in February 2021 after five years of the country being clear from a hemorrhagic fever.

The cases are the first to be confirmed after the most recent outbreak across Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia killed 11,000 people, the worst outbreak recorded in history.

Top bosses at the World Health Organisation have expressed their worry after the virus had lingered on for such a "remarkable" period of time, prompting further research.

Speaking at a press conference on Friday, March 12, the WHO's top emergency official, Doctor Mike Ryan said: "This (outbreak) is unlikely based on genetic sequencing to be linked to a fresh zoonotic reservoir and much more likely to be linked to persistence or latency of infection in a human subject.

"We are not dealing, as far as we understand right now, with a breach of the species barrier."

He went on to urge those who have survived Ebola not to panic, saying that "more studies are going to be needed".

Dr Ryan added: "Let me say this again: the vast majority of people who survived Ebola cleared the virus from their system, and they recover within six months.

"An even tinier proportion of people end up potentially carrying the virus, they're not infectious to other people, except in very particular circumstances, and a tiny proportion of them can relapse and become sick again."

Speaking at the same press conference, Doctor Bruce Alyward, a senior official at the World Health Organisation said: "The biggest mistake we could make would be to jump to conclusions about what this means about the outbreak and its evolution."

Ebola which is one of the deadliest viruses known to mankind can be transmitted to humans from bats or monkeys.

The virus can survive in or on parts of the body of survivors who are now in good health, for example, the eyes, testicles and breasts and can also be transmitted through semen.

Shortly after the news emerged, Doctor Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at the Georgetown Center for Global Health Science and Security took to her Twitter page saying: "This is also genuinely shocking to me scientifically… I have no idea how this happens mechanistically and it just goes to show how much we still have to learn about Ebola."

She added that the world needs to "step up our efforts to provide Ebola vaccines to people in affected communities, including survivors," but noted that there is a limited supply of vaccines.

Currently, three thousand people in Guinea have been vaccinated, with the World Health Organisation having 30,000 doses in total.

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