August 5, 2014
Nigeria is not presently an area of outbreak of Ebola virus – Ministry of Health Official

The Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment is assuring Vincentians that at present, there is no need to fear that Nigerian students will bring the Ebola virus to St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Dr Rosmond Adams, chair of the National Surveillance Committee, acknowledged{{more}} that the majority of African students enrolled at local medical schools are from Nigeria, but pointed out that to date there has only been one confirmed Ebola death in that West African country.

“Nigeria is not an area of outbreak as it is now [in other West African countries],” he explained.

He was also quick to point out that although the death occurred in Nigeria, the man had contracted the disease while he was in Liberia.

Since then, only one other case of Ebola has been confirmed in Nigeria – identified as the doctor who tended to the deceased when he disembarked his flight in Lagos, Nigeria.

Dr Del Hamilton, acting chief medical officer and consultant in the Department of Wellness, Disease and Management, confirmed the low risk, but assured that the Ministry is well aware of the presence here of Nigerian students. She said the Ministry has taken their presence in the country into consideration as part of their overall plan of action.

Dr Adams said while it is not impossible for the disease to be transported to SVG and the wider Caribbean, the lack of a direct flight between West Africa and the region minimises the risk.

“Most … [infected] people… would have to go through other transit points, and these countries would have their surveillance systems already to detect these people,” he said.

“It’s not to say we don’t have surveillance here – we are doing it… but you’re going through a filtering system of public health surveillance before you come here.”

Ferrosa Roache, co-chair of the National Surveillance Committee, said that along with developing management protocols for local health authorities, and sensitising workers in health care, immigration, the morgue and funeral homes, the Health Promotion Unit will also start its public education programme, with particular focus on Ebola’s signs/symptoms, transmission and infection control.

Symptoms typically start 2 to 21 days after contracting the virus, with a fever, throat and muscle pains and headaches. There is then typically nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea,along with decreased functioning of the liver and kidneys. At that point, some people begin to have problems with bleeding.

The disease is usually acquired when a person comes into contact with the blood or bodily fluids of an infected person.