On March 10, 2014, an outbreak of a contagious disease characterized by fever, diarrhea
and vomiting emerged in two villages in Guinea. When the illness was confirmed as Ebola Virus
Disease (EVD), the death toll was 59. The deadly disease is seriously ravaging the African countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. As at the time of this article, death toll is over 1000 victims, and in Lagos State, Nigeria, the deadly disease have claimed its third casualty two of whom are the medical personnel who treated Mr. Patrick Saonyer, the Liberian American who carried the disease into Nigeria.
With that thought in mind, I would like to share with you some facts regarding the Ebola virus, as well as some guidelines on the prevention of contracting the virus.
Humans can catch the Ebola virus through close contact with infected chimpanzees,
gorillas, monkeys, fruit bats, forest antelopes and porcupines found ill or dead in the forest.
Thereafter, Ebola spreads in the community from human to human, with infection resulting from
direct contact with infected people. It may also be spread through indirect contact with
environments contaminated with the blood, urine, stool and vomit of infected people as well as their soiled clothing and bed linen. Burial ceremonies in which mourners have direct contact with the body of the deceased person also play a role in the transmission of Ebola. Men who have recovered from the disease can still transmit the virus through their semen for up to 7 weeks after recovery from illness. Ebola cannot be transmitted through the air, food or water. Also, individuals who have no symptom are not contagious. In order for the virus to be transmitted, a person would have to have direct contact with an individual who is experiencing symptoms.
What are the signs and symptoms of the Ebola virus? The incubation period, which is the
time interval from infection with the virus to the start of symptoms, is 2 to 21 days. Usually, the
illness starts with fever, weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. This is followed by
vomiting, diarrhea, rash with kidney and liver problems and in some cases, both internal and
external bleeding. Ebola can easily be confused with other illnesses.
How can we avoid catching Ebola? Keep in mind that while initial cases of EVD are
contracted by touching infected animals or carcasses, secondary cases occur by direct contact with an ill person. During an Ebola outbreak, most of the disease has been by spread from one person to another. Several steps can be taken to help in preventing infection and limiting or stopping transmission.
Please take note of the following precautions:
- Listen to and follow directives issued by the local and federal authorities.
- Do not touch animals such as fruit bats, monkeys or antelopes in affected areas
- No animal found ill or dead should be touched without appropriate protective measures
- Avoid consuming bush meat
- Do not touch a person suffering from Ebola or a deceased patient
- Do not touch the soiled clothing or bed linen from a patient with Ebola. Disinfection is
required before handling these items.
- Hand washing with soap and running water should be done frequently where there is
- Avoid contact with body fluids such as urine, stool, vomit and blood.
- Avoid funeral or burial rituals that require handling the body of someone who has died
I WISH YOU GOOD HEALTH