Freetown – Sierra Leone’s eastern district of Kailahun, once a hotbed of Ebola, has recorded its first case in nearly four months, threatening progress made to stamp out the disease, officials say.
A 9-month-old boy tested positive for Ebola after dying in Kailahun, the district on Guinea’s border that recorded Sierra Leone’s first Ebola case last May and was for months the epicentre of the crisis.
Kailahun went from recording up to 80 infections per week in June to zero cases at the end of last year. Nearly 3,800 people have died of Ebola in Sierra Leone but numbers of weekly cases are falling as steps to control the disease take hold.
A spokesperson for the World Health Organisation, Winnie Romeril, said that local and foreign experts had been dispatched to investigate the case after the positive test result.
Kenema and Kono, two other eastern districts, have recorded a handful of cases in recent months but Kailahun’s successes had been cited as examples for other areas to follow.
Alex Bonapha, the Kailahun district council chairperson, said it was not clear how the boy may have contracted Ebola as both his parents were healthy.
He said the boy may have gotten the disease during a blood transfusion or there may have been a problem with the sample that was tested.
Sources at the Nixon Hospital in Kailahun District confirmed that the boy underwent a blood transfusion before dying.