Boy dies of Ebola in Liberia

Nov 24, 2015, 12:29 PM EST
Scanning electron micrograph of Ebola virus budding from the surface of a Vero cell (African green monkey kidney epithelial cell line. Credit: NIAID
Credit: NIAID

A boy who was diagnosed with Liberia's first case of Ebola in just under three months died this week of the virus. Some of his family members and more than 150 people who may have come into contact with him are being tested. The case has ruptured Liberia's relief at being free of the virus, and has mystified medical workers. NBC News writes that the boy, Nathan Gbotoe, died on Monday in a hospital outside Monrovia, and that there are no known cases in the area. Since the family doesn’t appear to have been in contact with a ny recent cases, and Liberia’s two neighbors, Guinea and Sierra Leone have no known Ebola cases, Gbotoe’s death is puzzling.

The New York Times comments on the progression of the Ebola vaccine: 
 
In October 2014, researchers began Phase 1 safety trials of potential Ebola vaccines. By late March, one of them was saving lives in Guinea. A process that normally takes years had been compressed into six months.
 
The Ebola vaccine is a double achievement. Researchers proved the effectiveness not just of a novel vaccine, but also of a novel method of testing it rapidly, in chaotic conditions and without traditional clinical trials. Even as it was being tested, the vaccine was helping to contain Ebola.  Today, hopes are high that it will administer the coup de grace to the epidemic.
 
Health officials have a suggested that, perhaps, because Liberia was nearing the end of its 90-day period of heightened surveillance, that monitors became tired and/or complacent. Reuters quotes UNICEF representative Sheldon Yett: 
 
"Everyone celebrates when the last case is treated but we can't let our guard down. There will be other fires, we need to be ready for them too.”
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