As the World Wealth Organisation (WHO) confirmed three new cases of ebola virus fever in Liberia, it is necessary for NYSC members to be properly informed and guided in order to avoid coming into contact with the deadly virus.
According to a senior official in Liberia, that has been devastated by the worst ever outbreak of the virus urged calm, the country’s health workers had the means to contain the latest outbreak.
“We are calling on the population not to panic because we have people capable of putting the situation under control,” health ministry spokesman Sorbor George told reporters.
“Let everyone take the necessary measures to prevent the virus from spreading,” he added.
WHO said the first confirmed case in the new outbreak was a 10-year-old boy who fell sick on November 14 and was hospitalised in the capital Monrovia three days later.
The other two patients are related to the boy.
WHAT NYSC MEMBERS SHOULD KNOW
This year alone, World Health Organization had reported 27,000 cases and more than 11,000 deaths of the Ebola virus mainly affecting three countries in West Africa: Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
A person infected with Ebola virus will typically develop a fever, headache, joint and muscle pain, a sore throat, and intense muscle weakness. Diarrhoea, vomiting, a rash, stomach pain and impaired kidney and liver function follow. The patient then bleeds internally, and may also bleed from the ears, eyes, nose or mouth.
Ebola virus disease is fatal in 50-90% of cases. The sooner a person is given care, the better the chances that they will survive.
These symptoms start suddenly, between two and 21 days after becoming infected.
If you feel unwell with the above symptoms within 21 days of coming back Liberia or having had contact with someone who have visited Liberia in the last one month, you should stay at home and immediately call for medical attention.
Spread and Infection
People can become infected with the Ebola virus if they come into contact with the blood, body fluids or organs of an infected person.
Most people are infected by giving care to other infected people, either by directly touching the victim’s body or by cleaning up body fluids (stools, urine or vomit) that carry infectious blood. The most important fact to know is that there must be body contact.
Risks and Prevention
Anyone who cares for an infected person or handles their blood or fluid samples is at risk of becoming infected. Hospital workers, laboratory workers, family members and house mates, are at greatest risk.
Any area affected by an outbreak should be immediately quarantined and patients treated in isolation.
NYSC members, who are attached to hospitals or other health care institutions are enjoined to observe the highest level of care and avoid contact with the bodily fluids of their infected patients by:
- wearing face masks, goggles, gowns and gloves
- taking extra care when handling blood, secretions and catheters, and when connecting patients to a drip
- disinfecting non-disposable medical equipment before reusing
- sterilising and disposing of used needles and disposable equipment carefully
- properly disposing of any secretions or bodily waste from the patient
- carefully and frequently washing hands with soap and water (or alcohol hand rub, if soap isn’t available)
- washing disposable gloves with soap and water after use, disposing of them carefully, then washing hands
Strict infection control procedures and wearing protective clothing minimises this risk.
There is no known cure for it yet. Although, the odds are that there is a 50:50 chance of survival form the virus however, those who survive the virus have been reported with serious long time health issues like sight loss. ZMapp, an experimental treatment that can be tried, although it has not yet been tested in humans for safety or effectiveness. ZMapp is a combination of three different antibodies that bind to the protein of the Ebola virus.
It’s difficult to know if a patient is infected with Ebola virus in the early stages as symptoms such as fever, headache and muscle pain are similar to those of many other diseases. Diagnosis is usually carried out and supervised by officials of WHO.