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Friday, July 25, 2014

Ebola Virus is real, Watch out for it.

Ebola Virus is real, Watch out for it.

The news in town is that there is a suspected case of the Ebola Virus Disease in Lagos already. Experts are still working to establish that it is, indeed, Ebola infections.

However, they are worried that the virus, which has been ravaging different regions in West Africa — including Senegal, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea — is getting closer to Nigeria.

For all we know now, the deadly virus may have entered the country as persons from these regions dash in and out of the country with questionable ease.

The World Health Organisation describes the EVD as a viral haemorrhagic fever and one of the most virulent viral diseases known to humankind.
So far, between January and June this year, more than 500 persons have died from the disease in Africa.

Ebola is regarded in the medical world as the deadliest virus on earth, not only because it has no known cure, but also because it is one of the world’s lethal infections: it could kill within hours or few days of symptom, whether an infected person gets treatment or not.

The initial symptoms of the viral disease can include sudden fever, intense weakness, muscle pain and sore throat; and it can later progress to vomiting, diarrhoea and, in some cases, internal and external bleeding.

Scientists note that the fearful aspect of the disease is that it is highly infectious. It has killed both doctors and patients while they were receiving treatment. It does not respond to any vaccine. It can live in the body system of an infected person for two days to three weeks without any symptoms.
It is difficult to diagnose. Experts note that by the time the symptoms start to manifest in an infected person, it is often too late to stop the spread of the virus through vital organs of the body. The best treatment affected persons get is therapy.

Veterinarian virologist and President of the Nigerian Academy of Science, Prof. Oyewale Tomori, notes that Nigeria is at risk of an outbreak of the Ebola virus, considering its proximity to affected countries in West Africa.

He says, “For it to have spread from Guinea to other places, it means that every country is at risk. As long as there is travel between countries, we are liable to exposure to whatever they carry.”
We cannot afford to be nonchalant about this disease that is killing West Africans every other day. Tomori counsels residents and health care professionals to be more vigilant than ever.
The scientist warns that they must increase their level of suspicion whenever a patient or an individual presents with any of the symptoms of the disease.

Tomori advises that people with an unusually high fever and weakness of the muscles be quarantined till they are properly diagnosed by a physician in order to check the spread of the disease.
He states, “Anybody that has yellow fever and has gone for treatment and there is no response, should quickly report to the hospital. And if anybody comes into this country from that part of West Africa, they need to be monitored for about two to three weeks if they develop fever, because this could be due to the incubation period of the disease.”

Without being told, an Ebola outbreak in Nigeria with a population of 170 million people who live mostly in crowded cities would be disastrous.  While we wait for the Federal Government to do the needful by ensuring that our borders do not warmly welcome those carrying this virus from affected countries, we must take precautionary measures to prevent infection should a Nigerian be infected already.

Ebola Virus Disease is spread through humans; however, its main host has been found to be fruit bats and infected exotic animals such as chimpanzees, monkeys and other game meats that live with fruit bats.
The World Health Organisation has sent a warning to those living in high risk areas such as West Africa not to eat bush meat for now.

The WHO states that hunters and consumers of meats of monkey, chimpanzee and other exotic animals in the West African region where the disease broke out could contact the virus through infected bush meats and fruits bats.

The global body also advises health workers to be at alert; wear personal protective equipment, observe universal basic precautions when attending to suspected or confirmed cases, and report to the local health authorities immediately.

Since the virus is spread through fruit bats, experts recommend that one must wash fruits and also disinfect them with mild antiseptics such as vinegar before eating them.

Other measures, which include washing of hands often with soap and water, avoiding close contact with people who are sick and ensuring that objects used by the sick are decontaminated and properly disposed, are also meant to reduce the risk of infection.

NB: please take these warnings to heart, as a Sierra Leonean doctor has been infected with the virus while treating patients; and three of his colleagues have died from the infection!

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