Regional Ministers of Health in Sub-Saharan Africa have reiterated the need for everyone to be made aware of the disease especially those in the communities. Ebola virus disease is a severe, often fatal illness, with a death rate up to 90%. The illness affects humans and nonhuman primates, that is, monkeys, gorillas and chimpanzees.
Ebola first appeared in 1976 in two simultaneous outbreaks, one in a village near the Ebola River in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the other in a remote area of Sudan.
The origin of the virus, however, is unknown but fruit bats are considered the likely host of the Ebola virus, based on available evidence.
According to the WHO, Ebola is introduced into the human population through close contact with blood, secretions organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals. In Africa, infection has occurred through handling of infected chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats, monkeys, forest antelope and porcupines found ill or dead or in the rain forest. It is important to reduce contact with high-risk animals, the organisation says.
Once a person comes into contact with an animal that has Ebola, it can spread within the community from human to human. Infection occurs from direct contact with the blood, or other bodily fluids or secretions i.e. stool, urine, saliva, semen, of infected people. Infection can also occur if broken skin or mucous membrane of a healthy person comes into contact with environments that have become contaminated with an Ebola patient’s infectious fluid such as soiled clothing, bed linen, or used needles.
Since health workers have frequently been exposed to the virus when caring for Ebola patients, they are advised to use personal protection equipment such as gloves, when caring for the patients.
Furthermore, 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.
Lastly, there are typical signs and symptoms of infection which may include sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, and muscle pain, headache and sore throat are typical signs and symptoms. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding.
Another caution is for a person’s suspected to have the disease to report to the nearest health unit for prompt medical care.
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