A two-year-old boy from a remote village in Guinea has been identified as the ‘patient zero’ in the deadliest-yet Ebola outbreak, DailyMail reports. Epidemiologists believe the boy from the village of Meliandou, Guéckédou province, suffered with fever, black stools and vomiting for just four days until he died on December 6.
Seven days later, his mother died too, followed by his three-year-old sister, who fell sick on Christmas Day and was dead before she could see the New Year.
Guéckédou sits by the borders with both Sierra Leone and Liberia. In a region where borders are porous, it gave the Ebola virus a route into three nations where medical infrastructure is under strain at the best of times.
Researchers charted the spread to nearby communities by two mourners at the funeral of the original victim’s grandmother, who died January 1, and the village midwife, who died February 2, but not before infecting one of her relatives who had cared for her.
But it wasn’t until March that the mystery sickness was recognised as Ebola and, by that time, dozens of people had died in eight communities in Guinea and suspected cases were emerging in Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Nine months after the first suspected case, described in The New England Journal of Medicine, and the West African Ebola outbreak, centred on Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, is the worst in history with nearly 1,000 victims so far. The World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Friday it is an international health emergency likely to continue spreading for months.