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New Ebola Cases Found in Previously Virus-Free Liberia


FILE - A health worker stands at Elwa hospital in Monrovia, Sept. 7, 2014. The facility is run by Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors without Borders).

Three new cases of Ebola have been confirmed in Liberia, a setback for the West African country, which had been declared free of the disease.

The latest cases came to light after a 10-year-old boy fell sick in Paynesville, a suburb of the capital, Monrovia, and was hospitalized in the city. Health officials said Friday that two immediate family members had also tested positive.

The three patients, along with three others who were possibly exposed to the disease, were taken to an Ebola treatment center outside Monrovia.

Liberia was declared Ebola-free on May 9, but new cases emerged in June. The World Health Organization declared the country Ebola-free again on September 3.

The head of the WHO's Ebola response team, Bruce Aylward, said it wasn't clear how the boy contracted Ebola. He said the child and his family had no known history of contact with a survivor or victim of the disease.

Liberia is one of three West African countries hit hard by the Ebola outbreak that began in December 2013, recording more than 10,000 cases and more than 4,800 deaths.

In all, the epidemic has killed about 11,300 people, mainly in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

The new Ebola cases in Liberia came less than a week after Guinea said it had no more Ebola patients and began the 42-day countdown — twice the incubation period of the virus — to be declared Ebola-free.

Sierra Leone was declared Ebola-free earlier this month.

Fear of the virus transformed the three countries and hampered efforts in Sierra Leone and Liberia to recover from civil wars.

Some information for this report came from Reuters.