It is no longer news that the latest outbreak of Ebola disease has killed at least 730 people so far in West Africa, with countries in all over the world now on the red alert, taken the necessary precautionary measures and sensitizing their citizens on the preventive measures towards the spread of the disease.
Except for a reported case of one Mr. Patrick Sawyer, a Liberian envoy and passenger who died in Lagos, there has not been any reported case of the outbreak of the disease in the country.
The Ebola virus first emerged in 1976 in an isolated village near the Ebola village in the Democratic Republic of Congo and that is where it got its name from.
The latest outbreak in West Africa is the worst on record. It is also the first to affect people in cities and not just remote villages.
The Ebola virus that causes a potentially lethal illness called hemorrhagic fever, renders the body’s blood vessels porous and the start to leak, causing catastrophic internal bleeding.
It is said that up to nine out of ten people who contact the virus will die without immediate medical attention.
Contrary to rumour, Ebola is not airborne. Unless there is a bodily contact with the body fluids of an infected person, the disease cannot be contacted.
The disease is caused by an infection with the Ebola virus and is often lethal in humans and non-human personates such as monkeys, gorillas and bats amongst others.
Due to the proximity of Nigeria to the Ebola affected countries and the recent case recorded in Nigeria, Governments at all levels are now on their toes.
Little wonder in Kogi State, the responsiveness of the Capt Idris Wada administration to the health needs and well being of the people has also ensured that it has trained surveillance officers on ways of detecting the dreaded virus.
Similarly, clinical officers in major hospitals are also trained on ways to curtail the virus.
Similarly, efforts is on to organized sensitization meeting with public and private Health Practitioners in the State on Ebola.
Furthermore, efforts has been put in place to sensitize residents on the need to be vigilant and report any suspicious case to a facility nearest to them.
Efforts aimed at stepping up implementation of key outbreak containment strategies including community engagement and involvement, tracing of contacts are some of the State Government’s proactive efforts at fighting the scourge, by the newly constituted Emergency Rapid Response Scheme of the government.
Aside the measures put in place to forestall outbreak of the virus, it behooves on citizens to be mindful of what type of meat the eat.
It is common place to see people eat bat, killed with bullets along post office area of Lokoja and in other places.
While the symptoms of Ebola can be confused with other, lesser illnesses as the initial symptoms are quite non-specific and similar to flu-like illness. They symptoms include fever, headaches and lethargy. This progresses to severe diarrhea and vomiting.
The incubation period of the disease is said to be between two days and three weeks. It is also recommended that infected person be isolated from others to avoid and limit spreading.
According to the centre for disease control and prevention, people are advised to wash hands thoroughly and regularly with warm water and soup or if that is not available, a hand sanitizer can be used.
At present there is no known cure for Ebola but severely ill patients would require intensive support care and intravenous fluids to rehydrate them.
Unfortunately some persons see the outbreak of the disease as opportunity to cash on the tragedy, with fraudsters deceptively claiming that they have vaccines that can prevent and cure the disease.
While the State Government under Capt Idris Wada will continue to make the health and well-being of its people its number one priority, the watchwords for citizens of the state is to be hygiene conscious by regularly following the guideline from the center for Disease Control and the World Health Organisation that the :
Suspected reservoirs for Ebola are fruit bats.
Transmission to humans is thought to originate from infected bats or primates that have become infected by bats.
Undercooked infected bat and primate (bush) meat transmits the virus to humans.
Human to human transmission is only achieved by physical contact with a person who is acutely and gravely ill from the Ebola virus or their body fluids.
Transmission among humans is almost exclusively among caregiver family members or health care workers tending to the very ill.
The virus is easily killed by contact with soap, bleach, sunlight, or drying. A washing machine will kill the virus in clothing saturated with infected body fluids.
A person can incubate the virus without symptoms for 2-21 days, the average being 5-8 days before becoming ill. THEY ARE NOT CONTAGIOUS until they are acutely ill.
Only when ill does the viral load express itself first in the blood and then in other bodily fluids (to include vomit, feces, urine, breast milk, semen and sweat).
If you are walking around you are not infectious to others.
There are documented cases from Kikwit, DRC of an Ebola outbreak in a village that had the custom of children never touching an ill adult. Children living for days in small one room huts with parents who died from Ebola did not become infected.
You cannot contract Ebola by handling money, buying local bread or swimming in a pool.
There is no medical reason to stop flights, close borders, restrict travel or close embassies, businesses or schools.
As always practice good hand washing techniques, but you will not contract Ebola if you do not touch a dying person. washing there hands, to be vigilant of unusual symptoms and be alert to health instructions from the State Emergency Response Committee.
Ebola: Understanding the facts and the efforts Kogi State Government has made in curtailing the deadly scourge, is a commentary written by:
Abu Micheal, Chief Press Secretary, Kogi State Deputy Governor.