22-Apr-2014.By: Sylvester Iriogbe
You must have heard of malaria, typhoid, cholera and other common diseases in Africa, but have you heard of the Ebola virus? If your answer is yes, how mindful are you about it? In case you haven’t, this is an opportunity to know and be mindful of it. This is a virus that causes an extremely severe disease in humans and other primates.
Ebola virus disease is a severe, often fatal illness, with a case fatality rate of up to 90%, according to World Health Organisation (WHO)’s report. Ebola fever is said to be one of the world’s most infectious diseases and the infection is transmitted by direct contact with the blood, body fluids and tissues of infected animals or people. Severely ill patients require intensive supportive care. During an outbreak, those at higher risk of infection are health workers, family members and others in close contact with sick people and deceased patients, WHO report stated.
Ebola disease spreads in the human communities through human-to-human transmission, with infection resulting from direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people. It could also result from indirect contact with environments contaminated with such fluids. Burial ceremonies in which mourners have direct contact with the body of the deceased person can also play a role in the transmission of Ebola. Men who have recovered from the disease can still transmit the virus through their semen for up to 7 weeks after recovery from illness. In Africa, infection has been documented through the handling of infected chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats, monkeys, forest antelope and porcupines found ill or dead or in the rainforest.
Just recently, BussinessDay newspaper (Nigeria) published in its report (April 13, 2014 -) that the news of the virus reaching Nigeria is assuming an alarming pace since the first recorded incidence appeared in neighbouring West African countries of Guinea and Liberia. According to the report, the alarm was also raised in nearby Ghana, where Nigerians throng to on a daily bases for business and vacation raising questions about Nigeria’s vulnerability to the devastating virus.
This is therefore a major concern for all Nigerians, calling for the need to be extra conscious of our environment and all possible risk of this deadly disease because of the high possibility of filtering into the Nigerian community. The Ebola virus disease can destroy families and communities, but the infection can be controlled through the use of recommended protective measures in clinics and hospitals, at community gatherings, or at home.
According to the Bussineday report, the Minister of Health, Prof Onyebuchi Chukwu had admitted that Nigeria was in danger with the rate at which the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) had been moving eastward towards the country. Although Nigeria had not reported any case of Ebola, the minister warned Nigerians not to wait for three days as customary of malaria fever before seeking medical attention, saying such a period was enough for an infected person to die.
The Ebola virus disease is often characterized by the sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. This is then followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding. People are infectious as long as their blood and secretions contain the virus. The time interval (incubation period) between the moment someone is infected and the time he starts seeing symptoms could be between is 2 to 21 days.
So far, there is no clinically tested human vaccine or effective treatment of the virus. It is therefore imperative that the following preventative measures are taken:
Close physical contact with Ebola patients should be avoided. Gloves and appropriate personal protective equipment should be worn when taking care of ill patients at home. Regular hand washing is required after visiting patients in hospital, as well as after taking care of patients at home.
Last Updated: 30-Jun-2016 07:39 PM
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