Mariatu Jalloh was nursed by members of a household of 22 people, before being treated as an outpatient at a local hospital.
A woman who died of Ebola this week in Sierra Leone may have exposed at least 27 others to the disease, an aid agency report claims, raising the risk of more cases just as the epidemic appeared to be ending.
Sierra Leone’s government on Saturday urged the public not to panic as it announced that more than 100 people had been quarantined, just as the country seemed to have overcome the epidemic.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) had declared that “all known chains of transmission have been stopped in west Africa”, meaning the area was officially free of the virus after a two-year epidemic that killed more than 11,300 people.
The WHO warned of potential flare-ups as survivors can carry the virus for months. The latest case is particularly worrying because authorities failed to follow basic health protocols, according to the report compiled by a humanitarian agency and released on Friday.
Health officials in Freetown said they had placed a total of 109 people who had been in contact with the student before her death in isolation.
Of those, 28 were considered “high risk” and three contacts had yet to be located, Ishmael Tarawally, the national coordinator of the Office of National Security, said at a press conference.
“We are worried and concerned about this new development but call on the general public not to panic and more than ever before, all Sierra Leoneans must work together to prevent further infection,” he said.
The victim, Mariatu Jalloh, 22, began showing symptoms at the start of January after travelling to a town near the border with Guinea in late December.
Sierra Leone’s northern border area was one of the country’s last Ebola hotspots before it was declared free of the virus on 7 November, and contact tracing was sometimes hampered by access problems.
By the time Jalloh returned to her parents’ home east of the capital Freetown, she had diarrhoea and was vomiting, the report said. Jalloh was nursed by members of a household of 22 people.
At a local hospital, a health worker took a blood sample but did not wear protective clothing. It was not immediately clear whether the sample was tested for Ebola.
She was treated as an outpatient and returned home, where she died four days later. A swab test following Jalloh’s death tested positive for Ebola.
The woman died in the northern Magburaka township in the district of Tonkolili but Tarawally said “active case investigations” were ongoing in all the districts where the victim was known to have recently travelled.
Those include the districts of Kambia, Port Loko, Bombali and Freetown.
“The source of infection and route of transmission is being investigated and the government urges all Sierra Leoneans to continue being vigilant,” Tarawally added.
The country’s chief medical officer, Dr Brima Kargbo, said that when the woman arrived at Magburaka Government Hospital she showed “no signs or symptoms that fitted the case definition of Ebola”.
“She had no fever or redness of the eyes when she was examined at the outpatient ward. What was detected was dizziness,” he said. “We are now going to revisit the Ebola case definition.”
Culled from: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jan/15/ebola-victim-in-sierra-leone-feared-to-have-exposed-27-others-to-virus