Nigeria: Lagos Urges Precaution Against Ebola at Yuletide

FOR Lagos State to remain Ebola-free, the government has charged residents to be mindful of what they do, eat and drink during the Christmas and New Year celebrations, stressing that since the season is noted for wining, dining and visitations, particularly by those coming from other states and countries, it is imperative to be on alert.

The Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris, speaking over the weekend, urged residents to observe good personal and environmental hygiene and follow the advice given on the prevention of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).

Idris noted in a statement by the Assistant Director, Press and Public Relations, Tunbosun Ogunbanwo: “Presently, there is no active case of Ebola in the country but Ebola is still a threat as its presence in neigbouring West African countries puts the nation at risk.

“This is why we need to be on the alert and observe a high degree of personal and environmental hygiene, especially during this season of celebrations, to prevent the disease from resurfacing in the country.”

He advised citizens to take basic precautionary measures against the disease by washing their hands with soap and water frequently, particularly after touching sick people; avoiding direct contact with body fluids like saliva, vomit, stool, semen, vaginal fluids and urine of suspected persons, or eating fruits half eaten by animals.

The commissioner further urged Nigerians to thoroughly cook all foods, particularly meat, before eating, clean all surfaces that have been contaminated with body secretions with bleach or detergents and desist from sharing sharp objects such as needles and razor blades.

Meanwhile, a new report published in The Lancet has revealed that a male doctor, who contracted Ebola in Sierra Leone, survived the disease after being treated with a drug being tested for use against vascular leakage syndrome, called FX06, which has been shown to reduce vascular leakage in animal trials.

The 38-year-old man was managing an Ebola treatment unit in Sierra Leone when he developed fever and diarrhea on September 28. The same day, it was confirmed that he had contracted Ebola.

He was flown to Frankfurt University Hospital in Germany five days later, where he was placed in a specialized isolation unit and treated with an experimental drug called FX06 – a fibrin-derived peptide that has been shown to be effective in lowering vascular leakage in mice with Dengue hemorrhagic shock.

Dr. Timo Wolf of Frankfurt University Hospital and colleagues revealed that the treatment was a success, and called for it to be assessed in clinical trials for Ebola.

Also, a study led by researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, United States (U.S.), and the country’s National Institute of Health has identified 53 existing drugs that may be effective at preventing the Ebola virus from entering human cells.

The results of the study are published in the journal, Emerging Microbes and Infections. The screening process was designed to identify compounds able to block Ebola from entering and infecting human cells by at least 50 per cent.

The estimated mortality rate of the current Ebola outbreak is about 70 per cent in many areas and there is no approved treatment for the infection, though trials for a vaccine are underway. The study found that the vaccine produces an immune response and is safe and well tolerated.

They suggested that the vaccine’s development might be fast-tracked due to the study’s results. Antibody-based therapy has also been effective in animal studies, but its success in human patients has not yet been confirmed in clinical trials.

“Miniaturized, high-speed technology” was used to screen samples of 2,816 existing compounds that have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for other uses while the screening process was designed to identify compounds able to block Ebola from entering and infecting human cells by at least 50 per cent.

Idris warned: “Please, do not defecate or urinate indiscriminately, and notify the health authority of anyone coming from any West African country into your community.

“Be assured that the Lagos State Government is still carrying out active search for cases while follow-up on rumoured cases are ongoing. We will keep providing you with update and disease prevention messages.”

He listed the signs and symptoms to include unexplained fever that does not respond to usual treatment, intense weakness, rashes, vomiting and diarrhea, which may be accompanied by bleeding from body openings like the ear, nose, mouth and anus.

And against all odds, “do not attempt to care for any suspected case on your own,” Idris warned. “Please call the Ebola Helpline 0800-EBOLAHELP or 0800-32652-4357 or the local council nearest to you for help.”

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