EBOLA IS BACK!
The Ebola Haemorrhagic Fever, also known as Ebola Virus Disease, or more popularly referred to as Ebola, is a viral haemorrhagic disease where the virus causes severe bleeding and fever.
Ebola first occurred in 1976 . It however gained little prominence during its major outbreak in West Africa between 2014-2016. It affected a large number of people in various countries resulting in a lot of public interest.
The WHO reported the first case in Guinea (a West African Nation), with a gradual spread to two other African Nations, Sierrra Leone and Liberia.
After the last case tested negative in 2016, WHO declared that “the outbreak was no longer an emergency” on March 29, 2016.
Recently, Ebola has been rediscovered in Democratic Republic of Congo with 39 probable cases including 19 confirmed deaths (as at May 2018).
According to WHO, at present the outbreak did not meet the criteria for declaring a “public health event of international concern”, which would trigger the formation of an emergency WHO committee. Nevertheless, this is no reason to throw caution to the wind.
This is therefore an indication that proper care should still be taken in protecting yourself against this highly contagious and fatal disease.
MODE OF TRANSMISSION
Ebola can easily be transmitted from an infected person to an uninfected person through:
- Contact with saliva through kissing or sharing drinks
- Contact with contaminated surfaces such as door knobs.
- Contact with objects such as needles, syringes, clippers etc. recently contaminated with fluids from the body such as blood.
- Eating contaminated fruit bat. Interestingly, fruit bat is only a carrier of EBOLA. That is, a fruit bat could have Ebola without being infected by it, neither will it show the disease; but can infect a human that eats its meat. It is advised to stay away from consumption of fruit bat!
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
When a person has Ebola, there are changes to look out for in the body indicating the infection. Some are:
- Sore throat
- Muscular pain
- Diarrhea (passing out loose, watery stool or faeces, more than the person’s usual frequency)
- Internal bleeding resulting in coughing out and vomiting blood (in severe cases)
It is essential to note that the above listed signs and symptoms are not peculiar to Ebola alone and could be mistaken for other diseases such as Malaria, Typhoid or Lassa fever.
How then do you get an accurate diagnosis?
Diagnosis is by finding the virus or antibodies in the blood. One major hindrance to the diagnosis of Ebola is that diagnostic tests which are currently available require specialized equipment and highly trained personnel. Since there are few suitable testing centers in West Africa, this leads to delay in diagnosis.
- Hand washing is very important. Use hand sanitizers if soap and water are not readily available.
- Careful handling of laboratory specimens such as blood by health care workers
- Use of Personal Protective equipment by health care workers
- Avoid direct contact with infected people
- Avoid direct contact with the corpse of infected people.
Treatment is mainly supportive. Prevention is better than its cure.
Do not keep anyone with these symptoms at home. Visit the nearest health facility. Early presentation to a health facility, if any of the above mentioned symptoms is present, is key to prompt management and survival.