Ivory Coast began vaccination health workers against Ebola in the commercial city Abidjan on Monday, following the confirmation of a case of the deadly illness over the weekend.
On Saturday, an 18-year-old woman tested positive after taking a bus from neighbouring Guinea to Abidjan. It is the Ivory Coast’s first confirmed Ebola case in 25 years.
About 200 health workers, many of whom worked at the Abidjan hospital where the woman was admitted, were vaccinated, and the health ministry said it hoped to vaccinate 2,000 people by Wednesday. There are 5,000 dosages available throughout the country.
“This is a situation that is under control,” Health Minister Pierre Dimba told reporters. He said the woman was in stable condition and that authorities had identified about 70 people who travelled in the same vehicles as her.
Ebola spreads through contact with the body fluids of symptomatic people. Health officials try to prevent it from spreading by monitoring and vaccinating people who come into contact with confirmed cases.
The WHO has said it is deeply concerned about the virus’ presence in Abidjan, a densely-populated city of more than 4 million. Ebola typically kills about half of those it infects although vaccines and new treatments have proved highly effective in reducing fatality rates.
In Guinea, the health ministry said on Monday that it would begin vaccinating, although it did not say when. Guinea was declared free of Ebola on June 19 after a four-month outbreak in the south killed 12 people.
Authorities believe the woman who tested positive travelled from northern Guinea by bus, passing through the Nzerekore region in the southeast, where the last outbreak began.
She then crossed Guinea’s southern border into Ivory Coast, arriving in Abidjan several hundred kilometres south on August 11. The next day, she was admitted to the hospital.
According to a WHO report, early DNA sequencing revealed a close match between her case and the 2014–2016 Ebola outbreak, which claimed the lives of 11,300 individuals. This outbreak began in southwestern Guinea and progressed to Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Guinea confirmed one fatality from the Marburg virus last week, marking West Africa’s first incidence of the extremely deadly hemorrhagic disease that is comparable to Ebola.