Liberia confirmed a third Ebola case on Thursday, nearly two months after it was declared Ebola free, and officials said they were investigating whether the disease had managed to lurk in animals before resurfacing.
The first new Liberian case, 17-year-old Abraham Memaigar, died on Sunday in the village of Nedowein in Margibi County, about 50 km (30 miles) from the capital Monrovia. Two others have since tested positive in the village.
“We have, as of yesterday, three confirmed cases,” Deputy Health Minister Tolbert Nyenswah said on Thursday. “One expired, who was the 17-year-old boy … The two live cases are 24 years old and 27 years old. They are stable.”
Ben Neuman, a virologist and Ebola expert at Reading University, said Ebola survivors, who can carry a small bit of the live virus in their bodies for months after recovering, might be responsible for the new cases.
“The new outbreak in Liberia is probably a rare reactivation that we are only seeing because there are so many Ebola survivors living in one place,” he told Reuters.
Sexual transmission is another possible explanation. The virus can persist in semen for up to 90 days, versus 21 days in other fluids like blood or vomit.
Note: Ben Neuman refutes the WHO 42 day quarantine rule?