August 5, 2014
Spread of Ebola virus causing international concern

The World Health Organisation has recently unveiled a US$100 million dollar response plan to combat the deadly Ebola virus that is afflicting several West African countries.{{more}}

This comes as two confirmed cases of the disease have been reported in Nigeria – one of whom died in Lagos on July 25, 2014, after travelling there on a flight from Liberia. The other case is reported to be the doctor who treated the deceased.

Previously, cases had only been reported in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

This is of international concern, as Nigeria is a major hub of international travel, with over seven million visitors passing through each year.

Dr Margaret Chan, director general of the WHO, met with presidents from Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Cote D’Ivoire on Friday, August 1, to launch the plan, which is being hailed as “a turning point” in the campaign to bring the outbreak under control.

At the meeting, Dr Chan acknowledged that this latest outbreak of Ebola is caused by the “most lethal strain in the family of Ebola viruses,” and is the largest in the almost 40-year history of the disease.

The latest WHO figures estimate that since February 2014, 1,603 persons across West Africa have been affected, with 887 cases resulting in death. The disease has also been affecting a large number of doctors, nurses and health care workers, with more than 60 of them having lost their lives in the process of tending to the infected.

According to a Huffington Post article dated July 30, 2014, two persons have been assessed for the virus in Britain.

Additionally, two American citizens returned to the US this week from Liberia – having contracted the disease while there. They were taken to an isolation unit in Atlanta, Georgia, for treatment and monitoring.

Ebola is one of the world’s deadliest diseases, (with no known cure) with a fatality rate of up to 90 per cent. The body of an infected person can remain contagious for up to 60 days after death.

With an incubation period of 2 – 21 days, the Ebola virus is passed to humans through direct contact with the blood and other bodily fluids (sweat, vomit, faeces, urine, saliva, semen) of infected persons or animals.

Symptoms include sudden onset of fever, weakness, muscle pain, and headaches. Vomitting, diarrhoea, rashes and kidney and liver problems follow. In the late stages of the disease, infected persons suffer from internal and external bleeding.

According to health officials, it can be difficult to distinguish between the symptoms of Ebola and those of malaria, typhoid fever and cholera.(JSV)