British National Contracts Ebola In Sierra Leone

Ebola virus diseaseA British national living in Sierra Leone has tested positive for Ebola Virus, the first Briton to fall victim to the deadly disease that has spread across the West African region since March, the Department of Health said on Saturday.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that the current Ebola epidemic – the world’s worst ever with 1,427 documented deaths – will likely take six to nine months to halt.

Some aid organisations, including medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres, have warned that the outbreak, which began in Guinea before spreading to Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria, is now out of control.

The WHO conceded on Friday that the hiding of victims and the existence of “shadow zones” where medics cannot go had concealed the true scale of the epidemic.

Britain’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer, John Watson, confirmed a British national was among those suffering from Ebola and said medical experts were assessing the situation in Sierra Leone to ensure appropriate care was provided.

“The overall risk to the public in the UK continues to be very low,” Watson said in a statement.

No further details about the British national were immediately available, and it was not known whether there were plans to evacuate the patient.

Ebola, which is passed on by direct contact with the bodily fluids of infected persons, strikes hardest at healthcare providers and caregivers who work closely with those infected. Dozens of local doctors and nurses have died from the virus in recent months.

Two American aid workers, who contracted Ebola in neighbouring Liberia and were then evacuated, recovered from the disease and were released from a hospital in the United States earlier this week.

Fear, stigma and denial have led many families to hide their infected loved ones from health officials. In other instances, patients have been forcibly removed from treatment facilities and isolation centers, creating the risk of the disease’s further spread.

Ebola Virus Threat: Epidemiologist Suggests Proper Hygienic Practice

Ismail Abdus-SalamNigerians have been advised not to panic over the reported cases of Ebola virus in some countries in West Africa, suggesting proper hygienic practice.

A State Epidemiologist with the Lagos State Ministry of Health, Dr Ismail Abdus-Salam, on Friday stressed that proper hygienic practice could help reduce the chances of getting infected with the virus which he said had no visible symptoms on individuals that had contracted it.

The Ebola virus, first discovered in 1976 in northern part of Zaire, now Democratic republic of Congo, has no cure or vaccine.

The incubation period for infection is two to 21 days.

Recently, persons in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leon have tested positive to the virus which has a fatality rate of 60 per cent on the average.

With the virus already in at least three countries in West Africa, there are chances that it could spread to Nigeria and Dr Abdus-Salam is of the opinion that proper ‘port of entry check’ should be conducted on persons or food items coming into Nigeria and other African countries from the countries where the virus had been detected.

“At the different port of entry, we have to keep on doing active surveillance of people who are crossing in and have complaints of fever, body weakness and other usual symptoms for other fever. The disease can be air born and could be transmitted by having close contact with those that are infected.

“You cannot know those that are affected, as they do not have signs that they are infected,” he said.

Health workers are trying to put measures in place to also ensure that the risk associated with attending to persons suspected to have been infected is reduced. Health workers could get infected at the point of detection.

The Ebola presents non-specific symptoms and late presentation involves bleeding from different openings of the human body.

“Health workers should have high index of suspicion of fever you have treated and it refused to go or any other fever,” Dr Abdus-Salam stressed.

He also emphasised the role that the surveillance system in Nigeria could play, highlighting that the health facilities in each local government in Lagos State are already passing down information about the disease and any suspicion.

“We have designated the mainland hospital at Yaba for isolation of any suspected case and management,” he said.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control is also handling public health enlightenment.

“We have sent written letter to health facilities around the state and have advised that people should not panic but should make sure that they keep their environment clean. We should ensure regular hand washing. People must wash fruits before eating them and we must ensure that we boil our meat well before we eat them,” he said.