Health authorities quarantined hundreds of people in northern Sierra Leone on Monday after a 16-year-old girl died of Ebola in an apparent case of sexual transmission, the first confirmed death from the virus in the district for nearly six months.
The teenage girl, Kadiatu Thullah, died on Sunday at the International Medical Corps Ebola treatment unit, authorities said.
The head of Ebola Response Centre for the district of Bombali in northern Sierra Leone, Emmanuel Conteh, said that some 690 people in the village of Robuya where Kadiatu lived would be isolated for a period of three weeks.
He told Reuters that seven of Kadiatu primary contacts had been taken to the Ebola treatment unit. Three of them who came into contact with her at a health facility had also been taken to the treatment unit.
Conteh said health workers were investigating how the teenager got infected, since she had not traveled outside the village in years. Initial suspicions are that she had sex with an Ebola survivor. Reuters reported.
Sierra Leone celebrated last month when it discharged the last remaining Ebola patient from its treatment centres. But since then a new spate of cases has erupted, leaving two dead and five people in treatment.
The worst outbreak of Ebola has killed more than 11,000 people in Sierra Leone, Guinea and neighbouring Liberia since its outbreak in December 2013.
Liberia was declared Ebola-free this month but growing evidence that the virus may survive longer than previously thought in sperm has raised fears of fresh outbreaks.
The head of Sierra Leone’s Ebola response, Pallo Conteh, has warned of a possible new surge of the virus after a woman died in the nearby Kambia district, on the border with Guinea. Nearly 1,000 people are into their second week of quarantine there, but a “high risk” contact remains on the loose, Conteh said.