Guinea will soon vaccinate people who have come into contact with more than 500 men who recovered from Ebola, according to a senior health official, the first time it has vaccinated the contacts of survivors.
The contacts will include but not be limited to sexual partners, Fode Tass Sylla, spokesperson for the West African nation’s centre for the fight against Ebola, said.
“We know the virus can stay in the sperm of a healed patient for a certain period of time,” Sylla said. “That’s why we want to vaccinate the circles of 501 men, to avoid all risk of spreading the disease.”
The vaccinations will begin in the next few days, Sylla said.
The centre also plans an awareness campaign to warn mothers who have recovered from the virus against breastfeeding their newborns, he said.
One of three countries at the epicentre of the world’s worst recorded Ebola outbreak, along with Liberia and Sierra Leone, Guinea was declared free of active transmissions of the virus in December 2015. But it announced eight new cases last month.
There are 10,000 survivors of the disease in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, according to the World Health Organization.
Liberia, which has declared the outbreak finished three times, closed its border with Guinea after its neighbour announced fresh cases.
The WHO reiterated that Ebola was no longer an international health emergency, but said flare-ups, at a decreasing frequency, were expected.
There have also been flare-ups in Sierra Leone and Guinea, though health authorities say those are not linked to the original chain of transmission.
Guinea’s flare-up on March 17 came months after the outbreak was declared over there and hours after Sierra Leone announced the end of the recent flare-up of the virus there.
According to the WHO, there have been eight cases of Ebola and seven deaths in Guinea since late February.
The most recent case, an 11-year old girl, is being treated at an Ebola care facility in Nzerekore, and is in stable condition, it said. Six of the dead were from three generations of the same extended family in the village of Koropara, it said.
The Ebola outbreak has killed more than 11,300 people, mostly in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea since December 2013. There are currently no known cases in Sierra Leone.