ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast (AP) — New tests show that Ivory Coast did not have its first case of Ebola in more than 25 years after all, the World Health Organization said, reversing course after the reported case last month prompted thousands of vaccines to be deployed.
The initial report sparked fear because the young woman had traveled by bus for several days from Guinea to Ivory Coast, coming into contact with at least 140 people, health officials said.
She eventually made her way to Abidjan, the commercial capital of 4 million people before being hospitalized where a test showed she had Ebola. However, no other suspected cases emerged in the weeks since.
On Tuesday, Ivorian health authorities informed the World Health Organization that a second laboratory, the Institut Pasteur in Lyon, France, had retested those samples “and has found no evidence of the virus.”
“With the new results from the laboratory in Lyon, WHO considers that the patient did not have Ebola virus disease and further analysis on the cause of her illness is ongoing,” the global health body said in a statement late Tuesday.
Ebola is transmitted by coming into contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person or contaminated materials. However, the early symptoms of fever and muscle aches resemble other common diseases like malaria.
A 2014-2016 epidemic that began in rural Guinea eventually spread to the capitals of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. More than 11,325 people died in what became the largest Ebola outbreak in history.
In the years since, two vaccines and new treatments have been developed to treat the hemorrhagic fever that once killed more than half its victims. Those tools helped to end outbreaks in Congo and another in Guinea this year.