Tanzania Denies Suspected Ebola Cases

An American soldier oversees doctors kitting up for ebola treatment. (Military Health System)

An American soldier oversees doctors kitting up for ebola treatment. (Military Health System)

Tanzania formally notified the World Health Organization (WHO) on September 14 that there were no cases of the Ebola virus in the country, despite three suspected cases, according to the WHO. These suspected cases come less than ten weeks after the WHO declared the Ebola outbreak a public health emergency in the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo (D.R.C.) on July 17. 

Ebola, a highly contagious virus that causes bleeding, organ failure, and often death has been a major health concern across Africa since its discovery in 1976, according to BBC. An outbreak in West Africa killed over 11,000 people between 2014 and 2016, and the current epidemic in the D.R.C. has killed more than 2,000 people since August 2018, making this the most deadly outbreak in the nation’s history. 

According to the WHO, unofficial reports surfaced on September 10 that a woman died from Ebola in Dar es Salaam. The WHO became aware that the Tanzanian National Health Laboratory had tested the patient positively for Ebola. The organization also learned that another suspected Ebola case had surfaced in the Mwanza region of northern Tanzania. While that patient allegedly tested negative for Ebola, the WHO discovered that another patient had been hospitalized for symptoms resembling Ebola in Dar es Salaam on September 12. 

While Tanzania has denied any confirmed cases of Ebola within its borders, the Tanzanian government has not shared laboratory tests or carried out secondary testing for patients suspected to have Ebola, according to the WHO. The WHO claims that Tanzania may be in a high risk situation, given that the potential. Ebola victim had traveled throughout the country. Additionally, a patient who had contacted the first potential Ebola victim was hospitalized on September 19. 

Tanzania relies on foreign tourism, meaning suspicions of an Ebola outbreak could hurt the country’s economy, according to BBC. Foreign tourism generates 14 percent of Tanzania’s gross domestic product, as reported by Tanzaniainvest.com. 

According to the Guardian, the initial victim was a woman in her mid-thirties who had visited Uganda before showing symptoms resembling Ebola. One of the following suspected cases of Ebola was the first victim’s sister. While Tanzania has never officially recorded a case of Ebola, several Congolese patients with Ebola have traveled into nearby Uganda, which also shares a border with the D.R.C., including three who died there. 

In response to the WHO allegations, the Tanzanian government requested a meeting with the local representative of the WHO on September 24, according to Al Jazeera. Tanzanian government spokesperson Hassan Abbasi wrote on Twitter that the Tanzanian government had contacted the official “to seek in-depth details on reports circulating in the media.”