Sierra Leone Current Affairs
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Researchers working in joint US-West African study funded by USAid have discovered new strain of Ebola virus in bats in northern Bombali region of Sierra Leone. It has been named as Bombali virus strain, after district where it was found. The Bombali virus is overall sixth known virus strain Ebola virus. Others are Zaire, Sudan, Tai Forest, Bundibugyo and Reston. Ebola virus is a highly fatal haemorrhagic fever that is spread through contact with bodily fluids from infected persons and animals which include non-human primates, bats and forest antelope. Zaire strain of Ebola virus is the most deadly strain known
The new Bombali strain of Ebola virus is distinct from its other virus strains. It is not yet known whether it could develop into the deadly disease. It is also not known that if Bombali virus has been transmitted to people or if it causes disease in people. However, results show it has the potential to infect human cells. Further research will help in understanding more about specific risks it poses.
The finding of new strain of virus comes two years after end of worst-ever Ebola outbreak that killed more than 11,000 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The three West African neighbouring countries were hard hit by Ebola outbreak which began in Guinea in December 2013 before spreading to Liberia and Sierra Leone. The epidemic was declared over by World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2016 after claiming over 11,300 lives out of nearly 30,000 registered cases. The 2014-2016 Ebola outbreak in West Africa was caused by Zaire virus, which was discovered in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), formerly Zaire in 1976.
World Health Organization (WHO), a UN health agency has declared Guinea Ebola-free after no new cases were reported. Now the country enters into 90-day period of heightened surveillance of WHO.
In Guinea, the deadly disease had killed more than 2,500 people and had completely shattered country’s economy and country’s health and education sectors.
Criteria for declaring a nation Ebola-free
WHO can declare a country Ebola free after no new cases are reported from human-to-human transmission over two incubation periods of virus i.e. 21 days. Earlier, WHO had declared Liberia Ebola-free in September 2015 and was followed by Sierra Leone in November 2015.
Guinea was birthplace of deadliest Ebola outbreak in history and was initially centred on country’s remote south-eastern region of Nzerekore in 2013. Later it had spread to its neighbouring countries Liberia and Sierra Leone and also seven other countries. After it began in 2013 it has killed more than 11,300 people in these three worst hit western African nations. Liberia with 4809 deaths was worst hit among these three western African nations in this deadly outbreak.