Health officials in Sierra Leone on Sunday confirmed a new death from the Ebola virus, less than a week after the last known Ebola patient was released from a hospital.
The West African country's chief medical officer, Brima Kargbo, said samples from the body of the 67-year-old victim, who died recently in a rural area near the Guinea border, have tested positive for the deadly disease. Kargbo told Reuters that further tests are under way to confirm the diagnosis.
The country's National Ebola Response Center said it is tracing people who were in contact with the woman.
Sierra Leone's last known patient was released from a hospital August 24, triggering a 42-day countdown required for a country to be declared free of the disease.
The World Health Organization says more than 11,300 people in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia have died from Ebola -- more than one-third of all West Africans known to have been infected. The current crisis -- the worst in history -- began in early 2014.
As the epidemic raged, Liberia was declared Ebola-free in May. But a new cluster of cases appeared about two months later, frustrating an army of doctors and scientists seeking to end the crisis.
Scientists at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say sexual transmission is the most probable explanation for the resurgence in Liberia. In May, a CDC report noted that the virus can live in semen for a period of time after a patient has otherwise recovered from the infection.