Once again, #Ebola is in the news!
Ebola is an illness that cause death in up to 9 out of every 10 persons infected.
It is caused by a tiny particle called a virus. Some viruses cause mild illnesses (like common cold). Others like Ebola virus cause very severe illness and quite often, death.
Ebola was first described in 1976 in Yambuku in the Ebola river basin of the then Zaire. Since then, there have been several outbreaks of the disease in West, Central and East Africa.
Ebola is believed to have an animal reservoir, most likely bats but this has not been confirmed by research.
Human beings and apes get infected by direct contact with infected tissue or body fluids. Ebola can be sexually transmitted through semen.
Hunting for or eating “bush meat” may contribute to outbreaks of Ebola. Poor health facilities and burial rituals (for dead victims) lead to infections of medical workers and caregivers. Travel also helps spread the illness from country to country.
About three days after exposure to infected material, symptoms of fever, severe headache, sore throat and body pains may appear. This may be mistaken for malaria or other common fevers.
After these, a rash may appear in fair people. The eyes may become very bloodshot.
Eventually, most organ systems in the body begin to fail and patients may be noticed to bleed excessively from different places.
Most patients (40 – 90%) do not survive beyond this stage. Survivors begin to show a gradual recovery after 2 weeks of infection.
Special tests are required to confirm Ebola. These tests are not readily available in most areas affected by these disease.
Hence, Ebola outbreaks are usually full-blown before they are recognized.
There is no specific treatment or cure for #Ebola. No preventive vaccine is currently available.
Many drugs have been tried but with disappointing results.
In treating #Ebola, the aim is to support the victim’s systems with fluids, proper feeding and to provide comfort. Some patients with Ebola virus disease will survive and spontaneously recover if provided with prompt intensive/supportive care.
Ebola infection is not a death aentence!
Attempts are made to control spread of the disease by nursing patients under special restricted conditions. All infected materials (beddings, etc) is specially disposed of.
There are many conditions that Ebola resembles especially in the initial period.
In view of the ongoing outbreak, physicians and the public should be on high alert especially when in contact with an ill person who travelled to Ivory Coast, Sudan, DRC or other neighbouring countries recently.
That fever may not be “ordinary” malaria or typhoid especially if there is severe headache or sore throat.
Testing kits for Ebola should be made readily available by government at all levels.
Our health facilities are not equipped to handle ebola epidemics which could very easily spread from patients to medical workers to the rest of the public.
Carriers of Ebola virus ARE NOT CONTAGIOUS until they are acutely ill. Only when ill does the viral load express itself first in the blood and then in other bodily fluids
(to include vomit, feces, urine, breast milk, semen and sweat). If you are walking around with the virus you are most likeky not infectious to others.
People at greatest risk are health workers, family members/caregivers of ill patients and those who handle the corpses of Ebola victims. A distance of 10m from an acutely ill person is considered as safe even without personal protective equipment.
Raising awareness and practising appropriate preventive measures are important ways to contain and outbreak of the Ebola virus disease.
Steps in prevention of Ebola infection and control of an outbreak include;
1. Regular hand wash under running water using regular soap. In areas where water may be scarce, using ash to clean the hands is adviced. In between washes, use of hand sanitizers or any alcohol-based preparation is recommended.
2. Avoiding contact with body fluids from seriously ill patients or any persons suspected/confirmed to have the Ebola virus disease.
3. Staying well away from the corpses of persons suspected or confirmed to have died from the Ebola virus disease.
4. Avoiding contact with wild monkeys, bats or other bush animals. In several instances, an outright ban has been placed on the hunting for such animals to help contain an Ebola epidermic.
5. Properly cooking meat products from wild animals before consumption.
6. Properly covering up all breaks or injuries on the skin to avoid providing easy access following contact with body fluids of suspected infected persons.
7. Encouraging safe sex practices.
8. Educating all persons around you on the manifestations of Ebola virus disease and how to prevent infection as well.
9. Encouraging all persons with sudden onset fever or other early symptoms to go to the hospital for proper evaluation and possible acreening.
10. Avoiding any attempts at self-medication and “home treatment”. These practices put family members and loved ones at increased risk of being infected.
“Lens On Ebola” Project
The “Lens On Ebola” project is a collaborative effort (between Co-creation Hub, Nollywood workshops, Mainframe media, and Naija247Medic) aimed at educating the Nigerian populace on the Ebola scourge and best practices to protect individuals. It uses short video clips/PSAs (Public Service Announcement) featuring popular Nollywood figures/personalities to deliver useful information about Ebola and preventive steps. It also includes the use of catchy fliers to educate and orientate.
Is It Ebola? http://t.co/t7zp1psMIv
Wash Your Hands http://t.co/JQRQKgOXJJ
Together we can all #StopEbola if we #StayCalm and follow all the outlined precautions.