Ebola fever is now ravaging Guinea and Sierra Leone, both in West Africa. It started in Guinea about six weeks ago and has so far killed over 60 people. The disease affects animals and humans.
It comes into the human population through contact with the blood, secretions, meat and other body fluids of infected animals. It can also happen when animals with the disease (dead or alive) are handled by human beings. These animals include chimpanzee, gorillas, monkeys, fruit bats and antelopes.
Once it enters the human population, it then spreads from person to person through contact with the blood, secretions, and other body fluids including semen of the infected persons. Even poor handling of bodies of persons who died from the disease also help in the spread.
Health workers (doctors, nurses, laboratory scientists etc ) can contract the disease if special care is not taken during treatment of the infected person. Infected persons can infect others up to two months after the onset of the disease.
Ebola fever is highly contagious and has a high death rate, at least one in four persons affected die.
It has reached Liberia and so Nigerians must be prepared as we are not too far away. Ebola fever has no cure and no vaccine has been developed.
We must know more about the disease and how to avoid it.
1. Contact with bush animals should be restricted especially without gloves.
Bush animals contract the disease easily from bats which appear to be the reservoir of the virus. When humans handle infected bush animals without necessary precautions such as hand gloves and protective clothing and sometimes with goggles on, they could become infected. Therefore you must handle bush animals with care especially now.
2. Bush meat must be thoroughly cooked before eating.
You can get infected by eating the meat of an infected animal if not well cooked. Cook your bush meat very thoroughly.
3. Avoid bat meat, also monkey meat.
Bats are the reservoir of this infection, the virus stays and multiplies in bats, it needs the bats to survive. Some people eat bat meat as a delicacy, you do not need it, avoid bat meat. But if you must eat it for reasons best known to you, then cook it very, very well so as to kill the virus.
4. Health workers must handle patients infected with Ebola virus with extreme precaution.
If you are a health worker, handle patients infected with Ebola virus with extreme precaution.
You are particularly at risk. Extreme precaution must be taken when preparing the dead from the disease for burial. As said earlier, the spreads from person to person through contact with the blood, secretions, and other body fluids including semen of the infected persons; also from contact with bodies of persons who died from the disease. Patients should only be attended to when you are well kitted—hand gloves on, protective clothing on, mask on and your goggles on.
5. Animal farm workers/ hunters should handle animals with gloves and appropriate protective clothing.
Animal farm workers like health workers are particularly at risk, especially those working in pig farms. When there is an outbreak such as in Guinea, handling of farm animals must be gloves and protective clothing. Farm owners are expected to disinfect the farms.
6. Isolation of anyone down with the disease.
Close contact with infected persons must be avoided. If you or your relation has fever, vomiting, diarrhoea and bleeding, pls see a doctor for proper diagnosis soonest. If on admission, minimize contact even with relations and practice personal hygiene by washing your hands thoroughly.
7. Practice Personal Hygiene.
Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after contact with an infected person if it happens at all. As a habit, always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after any visit to a hospital, infectious agents are resident in hospitals.
8. Be aware of the disease.
Finally, the best preventive measure is to be aware that fatal Ebola Fever is now in West Africa and to know how to avoid it as stated above.