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Côte d’Ivoire begins Ebola vaccination after confirmed case

Côte d’Ivoire has begun a vaccination programme against Ebola after the country confirmed its first case since 1994, the health ministry says.

It said the family of the infected teenager and health workers involved were the first to be given the jab.

Health official Serge Ehole said on Monday that they planned to have vaccinated by Wednesday “all the 2,000 people that we consider exposed from the community, and also people from the health system and security”.

The infected teenager tested positive on Saturday after arriving in the commercial hub, Abidjan, on a bus from neighbouring Guinea.

Ebola causes severe fever and, in the worst cases, unstoppable bleeding.

Highly infectious

Guinea – site of the 2014-16 Ebola outbreak, the deadliest on record – experienced a four-month Ebola upsurge earlier this year that was declared over on 19 June.

Guinea early this week also confirmed a first case of the Marburg virus in West Africa. Marburg virus disease is a highly infectious haemorrhagic fever similar to Ebola.

Transmission of both diseases occurs through contact with infected bodily fluids and tissue. The symptoms include headache, vomiting blood, muscle pains and bleeding.

The WHO said there was no indication the current case in Côte d’Ivoire is linked to the outbreak in Guinea earlier this year. It said further investigation and genomic sequencing will identify the strain and determine if there was a connection.

“It is of immense concern that this outbreak has been declared in Abidjan, a metropolis of more than four million people,” Matshidiso Moeti, WHO’s regional director for Africa, said in the statement.

“However, much of the world’s expertise in tackling Ebola is here on the continent and Côte d’Ivoire can tap in to this experience and bring the response to full speed,” she said.

The WHO said it was helping to co-ordinate a cross-border response, which included transferring 5,000 doses of the Ebola vaccine from Guinea to Côte d’Ivoire.

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