Ebola patient in Liberia (file)
Ebola patient in Liberia (file)Reuters

The lethal virus Ebola has largely disappeared from the news since the devastating outbreak subsided to a great extent earlier this year, but the disease appears to be on the return as Libera this week recorded its first cases after an extended lull.

The last Ebola victim in Liberia was diagnosed on March 20, and as of May 9 the country was officially declared Ebola-free - until now.

It was announced on Tuesday that a 17-year-old boy from Margibi County died of Ebola, and before doing so he spread it to at least two other people, a local health official revealed on Wednesday.

"Two more people have been confirmed positive. These people had contact with the boy. We are still waiting for more results of blood tests," the health official, Cestus Tarpeh, told AFP.

Tarpeh revealed that an herbalist who treated the boy and was therefore exposed to the lethal virus has fled authorities and is currently on the run.

Health Minister Bernice Dahn announced that the boy, whose identity has not been divulged, died at a village located near the country's international airport, to the southeast of Monrovia.

Dahn said Tuesday it is "likely that we will find additional cases."

Liberia was one of the hardest hit countries by the Ebola epidemic, with a full 4,800 civilians having died from the lethal disease according to official tolls. The outbreak, which began in earnest last March, left Liberia's economy and health services in shambles.

As of late last December, Ebola had already infected 20,000 people and killed over 7,000 in West Africa, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

WHO reported last October that with unofficial figures included, the disease is showing a 70% rate of mortality, much higher than its traditional 50% rate.

The outbreak of the disease threatened more than just Liberia and Sierra Leone where the focal point of the epidemic was centered, as cases were recorded in the US, UK and elsewhere, triggering a global effort to clamp down on the spread of the lethal virus.