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Why Nigeria must be vigilant for Ebola

by hr

It is shocking to note that on the 29th of June 2015, a new case of Ebola virus disease was identified in Liberia 50 days after interruption of active transmission was achieved on 9 May. Since then, a cluster of cases has been identified, all of them from Nedowein in Margibi county. Currently, 5 people have been confirmed with Ebola virus disease by laboratory testing as revealed by World Health Organization (W.H.O).

All hands must be on deck to continue supporting Liberia to curtail this resurgence. Liberia is located in West Africa and not far from Nigeria. We should not forget so soon that it was a Liberian infected with Ebola that entered Lagos undetected then and spread the virus which led to the death of the medical doctor attending to him. With this development the Nigerian government via the Federal Ministry of Health and its agencies should triple their efforts in ensuring that no Ebola infected and symptomatic person enters the country via air and sea ports as well as our land borders. Iam glad to notice that our international wings of our airports have not relent in their efforts in doing the temperature screening. Is this happening in our sea ports? The worst case scenario are our Land borders with the neighboring West African Countries. Are they well equipped to conduct temperature screenings for all motorists and their passengers entering and leaving Nigeria? Which health agency is responsible for empowering them? Awareness on Ebola via radio, television, print media and online media should come back to its full force and sustained until Liberia and international community have curtail the virus in that country.

W.H.O has revealed that as part of the investigation into the source of the new cluster of infections in Liberia, samples taken from the first person found to have Ebola were sent to the Liberian National Reference Laboratory for genetic sequencing. Tests on these samples have shown that the virus is genetically similar to viruses that infected many people in Margibi County more than 6 months ago, in late 2014.

“Presently, 149 people have been identified as contacts and are being monitored closely. Four of these people have tested positive and are being treated for Ebola virus disease in Ebola treatment centres——-the new case of Ebola was detected as a result of the heightened surveillance measures being implemented during this period.”

The foregoing has reiterated the fact that it was heightened surveillance measures that led to the discovery of the new case. This is an indirect call to Nigeria to also be very vigilant and heighten its surveillance measures in a highly vulnerable places and states.

It will wise to conclude this article by highlight some basic facts about the Ebola.

Ebola virus disease (EVD), formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, is a severe, often fatal illness in humans. The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission. The first EVD outbreaks occurred in remote villages in Central Africa, near tropical rainforests, but the most recent outbreak in West Africa has involved major urban as well as rural areas.

The Ebola virus causes an acute, serious illness which is often fatal if untreated. Ebola virus disease (EVD) first appeared in 1976 in 2 simultaneous outbreaks, one in Nzara, Sudan, and the other in Yambuku, Democratic Republic of Congo. The latter occurred in a village near the Ebola River, from which the disease takes its name.

The current outbreak in West Africa, (first cases notified in March 2014), is the largest and most complex Ebola outbreak since the Ebola virus was first discovered in 1976. There have been more cases and deaths in this outbreak than all others combined. It has also spread between countries starting in Guinea then spreading across land borders to Sierra Leone and Liberia, by air (1 traveler) to Nigeria and USA (1 traveler), and by land to Senegal (1 traveler) and Mali (2 travelers).


It is thought that fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family are natural Ebola virus hosts. Ebola is introduced into the human population through close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals such as chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats, monkeys, forest antelope and porcupines found ill or dead or in the rainforest. Ebola then spreads through human-to-human transmission via direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people, and with surfaces and materials (e.g. bedding, clothing) contaminated with these fluids.

Health-care workers have frequently been infected while treating patients with suspected or confirmed EVD. This has occurred through close contact with patients when infection control precautions are not strictly practiced. No formal evidence exists of sexual transmission, but sexual transmission from convalescent patients cannot be ruled out.

Symptoms of Ebola virus disease;

The incubation period, that is, the time interval from infection with the virus to onset of symptoms is 2 to 21 days. Humans are not infectious until they develop symptoms. First symptoms are the sudden onset of fever fatigue, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, symptoms of impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding (e.g. oozing from the gums, blood in the stools). Laboratory findings include low white blood cell and platelet counts and elevated liver enzymes.

1st published in Daily Trust Newspaper of  14th July 2015 by  Dr Aminu Magashi Publisher Health Reporters (healthweekly@yahoo.com)  

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