Liberian boy dies after new Ebola cases emerge

After a fresh round of Ebola cases were announced in Liberia last week, a 15-year-old boy has died of the disease, the first fatal case for the embattled country after it was twice declared Ebola-free this year, health officials said Tuesday.

Nathan Gbotoe died Monday night at an Ebola treatment center near Monrovia, Liberia’s capital, where his father and brother are also being treated for the disease, said Francis Kateh, chief medical officer of Liberia’s Ebola Case Management System.

Health officials are monitoring more than 160 people, including several health workers, who are at risk for contracting Ebola after they had direct contact with the boy, the Associated Press reported.

Liberia said it requested the help of two experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the U.S. to determine the cause of the new cases, the AP reported.

In a press briefing Monday, the World Health Organization said the boy had “no obvious history of exposure to the virus because [he] hadn’t traveled or had not been exposed to someone with Ebola.”

WHO added that the organization believed the latest flare-up in Liberia could have started when someone came in direct contact with a virus that had persisted in an individual, a long-term effect of the virus.

WHO previously declared Liberia to be Ebola-free on May 9, but a crop of new confirmed cases led to two more deaths in June. The country was able to bring the number of transmissions to zero again on Sept. 3 until Gbotoe and his family, including the boy’s mother and two other siblings who were considered “high risk contacts,” were isolated at an Ebola treatment center last week.

What looks like an ordinary greenhouse is actually an around-the-clock Ebola vaccine factory. At a facility in Kentucky, plants are being injected with a protein in order to spur them into producing one of the three antibodies used in the experimental drug ZMapp. Video by PBS NewsHour

Liberia, one of three West African nations hardest hit by the Ebola virus, has seen more than 10,600 Ebola cases and more than 4,800 deaths, according to WHO. Since the virus was detected in March 2014, more than 11,300 deaths have been recorded.

Sierra Leone was declared free of the virus on Nov. 7, and unless a new confirmed case emerges, Guinea recently started its own countdown of 42 days, or two incubation periods, to end Ebola transmission.