The past few days the media has been filled with reports of a cluster of severe illness and sudden deaths among attendees of a funeral in Liberia - a scenario similar enough to that seen during their 2014 Ebola epidemic to raise concerns that the virus had resurfaced.
Subsequent testing, however, showed that Ebola was not responsible for the outbreak. The cause remains undetermined.
Today the World Health Organization media team emailed the following set of notes taken by Fadela Chaib at a press conference held today on the outbreak:
Correction: NINE people died ( and not EIGHT) as previousely sent.
It should read: since Monday, April 24, 17 people have fallen sick. Nine people have died, and eight are still ill and hospitalised
Please find below my notes on the unexplained illness and deaths from Sinoe County in Liberia.
On 25 April, WHO received a report from Liberia health authorities about a cluster of unexplained illness and deaths from Francis Grant Hospital in Greenville, Sinoe County. Sinoe Country is 4.5 hours drive South East of Monrovia.
According to the report, since Monday, April 24, 17 people have fallen sick. Eight people have died, and eight are still ill and hospitalised. Most of them are aged below the age of 21 .
• Rapid response teams have been reactivated at District and County level with technical and logistical support from WHO, CDC and other partners.
• Observed symptoms include fever, vomiting, headache, diarrhoea.
• The response team are investigating reports linking the cluster to attendance at the funeral of a religious leader.
• Specimens were collected from seven dead bodies and have been sent to the national laboratory for testing. All came back negative for Ebola.
• Further testing underway to find out the cause of the illness and deaths. The investigation teams will try to find if this could be in relation to the consumption of same food and drinks and if there is an environmental exposure to some chemicals or bacteria.
Response measures include:
Precautionary isolation of the cases
Clinical staff wearing PPEs ( Personal Protective Equipment) at the hospital.
Epidemiological investigations ongoing, active case searching and contact tracing.
Engagement and consultations with community leaders from the affected communities
Social mobilization encouraging encouraging people go to the hospital when sick.
Samples from water sources being collected to test for chemicals and bacteria.
WHO Media team