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Nigeria reports 17 Ebola cases

In a Sept. 1 statement, the Nigerian Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, clarified the numbers in the Ebola outbreak in that nation. There have been 17 confirmed cases of Ebola in Nigeria, 15 in Lagos and two in Port Harcourt. The minister did not detail any suspected or probable illnesses.

Map showing the current locations of Ebola outbreaks in Nigeria
Map showing the current locations of Ebola outbreaks in NigeriaCIA / public domain

All of the data includes the index patient, Patrick Sawyer. Since his arrival in Nigeria, there have been six Ebola deaths. The number of survivors, recovered and released from treatment, is eight. Three patients remain in isolation and under treatment.

The Nigerian Ebola outbreak is unusual since the index patient, the first patient with the disease, has been known from the start. There has been no need to devote time and resources to tracing the origin of the disease. Public health efforts have been centered around locating the contacts that Sawyer had in Nigeria, and the contacts of those who contracted the illness from Sawyer.

Preventing the spread of Ebola has been complicated by the behavior of several contacts. A nurse who had contact with Sawyer fled to her home in the eastern Nigerian city of Enugu. An Aug. 31 statement from the minister states that this situation has apparently not resulted in any Ebola cases in that region.

A contact of Sawyer's described in the same statement as an "ECOWAS Commission staff" traveled to Port Harcourt, in the south, and was seen for his illness by a physician there. That physician has died and a patient in that same hospital also contracted the illness and is being treated.

As of the Aug. 31 statement, 271 contacts are being monitored for Ebola. The minister expects that there will be additional Ebola cases in the Port Harcourt region before the outbreak ends. The surveillance period for these patients is 21 days from the date of exposure, which varies by patient.