On Friday we learned that a fifth African nation had been touched by the Ebola outbreak in Senegal Reports 1st Imported Case Of Ebola. Initial details were sketchy, particularly concerning the timing of the index cases' arrival and diagnosis.
Today the World Health Organization has released an update that, unfortunately, shows this patient was symptomatic, and living with relatives in Dakar for several days before being admitted to the hospital.
All of which makes the identification and observation of all of this patient’s contacts during that period of paramount importance. It also appears that this person entered the country prior to last week’s (Aug. 21st) border closing with Guinea.
Epidemiology and surveillance
On 30 August 2014, Senegal’s Ministry of Public Health and Social Affairs provided WHO with details about a case of Ebola virus disease (EVD) announced in that country on 29 August.
WHO has also received details of the emergency investigation immediately launched by the Government. Testing and confirmation of Ebola were undertaken by a laboratory at the Institut Pasteur in Dakar.
The case is a 21-year-old male native of Guinea, who arrived in Dakar, by road, on 20 August and stayed with relatives at a home in the outskirts of the city.
On 23 August, he sought medical care for symptoms that included fever, diarrhoea, and vomiting. He received treatment for malaria, but did not improve and left the facility.
After leaving the facility, he continued to reside with his relatives. Though the investigation is in its early stages, he is not presently known to have travelled elsewhere.
On 26 August, he was referred to a specialized facility for infectious diseases, still showing the same symptoms, and was hospitalized.
On 27 August, authorities in Conakry, Guinea, issued an alert, informing medical services in Guinea and neighbouring countries, that a person, who was a close contact of a confirmed EVD patient, had escaped the surveillance system.
That alert prompted testing at the Dakar laboratory, launched an investigation, and triggered urgent contact tracing.
Health sector response
WHO is treating this first case in Senegal as a top priority emergency. Key operational personnel were dispatched to Dakar today; others will follow.
The Government of Senegal has informed WHO of the urgent need for epidemiological support, personal protective equipment, and hygiene kits. These needs will be met with the fastest possible speed.