New strain of Ebola virus found in Bombali Sierra Leone – says ministry of health

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 27 July 2018:

Sierra Leone’s ministry of health has confirmed that a new strain of Ebola virus – known as the Bombali Virus (BOMV), has been found in bats in the Bombali district of Sierra Leone.

It’s not known whether the new strain can develop into the deadly Ebola disease, if transmitted to humans.

In 2013 to 2015, an Ebola virus outbreak killed over 11,000 across West Africa, with Sierra Leone suffering the loss of over 4,000 people, as the Koroma led APC government was accused of neglect, incompetence and corruption.

“At this time, it is not yet known if the Bombali Ebola virus has been transmitted to people or if it causes disease in people. But it has the potential to infect human cells,” Amara Jambai, a senior ministry of health official told AFP.

“This is early stages of the findings,” Jambai added, calling on the public to remain calm while awaiting further research.

A health ministry spokesman and a researcher who worked on the discovery confirmed the findings to AFP.

Researchers who found the new virus in the northern Bombali region are now working with the Sierra Leone government to determine whether any humans were infected.

“As precautionary measures, people should refrain from eating bats,” Harold Thomas, health ministry spokesman told AFP.

The worst-ever Ebola outbreak started in December 2013 in southern Guinea before spreading to Liberia and Sierra Leone.

The West African outbreak was caused by the Zaire species, which has historically been the most deadly in humans since it was first identified in 1976.

That outbreak killed more than 11,300 people out of nearly 29,000 registered cases, according to World Health Organization estimates.

Umaru Fofanah reported: “Minister of Health, Dr Alpha Tejan Wurie told me that the virus – which is yet to be named – “does not have all its gene types similar to Ebola” and stressed that it was “not Ebola”. He said even if it had spread to humans, the virus which was discovered in Bombali District would not have the same effect as the Ebola Virus Disease which killed more than 3,000 people in Sierra Leone in 2014/15. He said the discovery which followed months of research, meant that the country was in a state of readiness and was better equipped to deal with any situation. Dr Wurie, who owns one of the best laboratories in the country, warned the public against panic and to refrain from eating bats.”

Sierra Leone Telegraph 27 July 2018

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