Ms. Ruth Tugbeh, who was the last known confirmed Ebola patient in Liberia, may have contracted the killer disease through “sexual transmission.”
However, this is far from proven as more tests are still being conducted in order to come up with the full conclusion if the 44-year-old woman who died last Friday had contracted the virus through sex with a survivor.
There have been speculations in most quarters that Ruth, who used to live in Caldwell before her demise, had contracted the virus through sex.
Speaking to journalists yesterday, the head of the Incident Management System (IMS), Mr. Tolbert G. Nyenswah, stated: “Previous data indicate that sexual transmission of Ebola virus is possible; new information indicates that sexual transmission may have occurred, but remains unproven; additional tests are being undertaken to investigate this possibility further.”
Mr. Nyenswah, who is also the Assistant Minister for Preventive Services at the Ministry of Health, announced that the most recent and only confirmed case in Liberia had died last Friday, March 29. “Our hearts are saddened by the loss and our thoughts and prayers are with the bereaved family,” said Nyenswah.
He said the patient presented at the Redemption Hospital Emergency Triage on Thursday, March 19, at 9:45 pm with fever (38.1oC) and reported fatigue and diarrhea.
“Blood analyzed and confirmed on Friday, March 20, [that the patient had come down with the Ebola virus disease.]”
According to him, Ruth, who he didn’t mention by name, was “transferred to one of our sophisticated Ebola Treatment Units— the Monrovia Medical Unit jointly run by the Ministry of Health and the United States Public Health Services (USPHS) where the patient later died on Friday, March 27.”
Asst. Min. Nyenswah urged Ebola survivors to continue to abstain from sex or observe “safe sex through the correct and consistent condom use for a minimum period of three months. However, for greater security, public health and prevention of other sexually transmitted infections, Ebola survivors should consider correct and consistent use of condoms for all sexual acts beyond three months until more information is available.”
It’s now 10 days since the last confirmed case was reported. As of Sunday, March 29th, there was not a single confirmed case in Liberia. However, when Ruth became infected, she might have had contact with 211 persons, who are now being “intensively” monitored for at least 21 days. They are being observed because the virus takes two to 21 days to manifest itself within an infected person and also to detect possible chains of transmission.
The former Caldwell resident now brings Liberia’s Ebola survivors to 9602 and 4301 deaths since the disease was first reported in the third week of March 2014.