NEWSLETTER

EBOLA DISEASE

What is Ebola?

The Ebola virus disease (EVD) formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever where it 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 was in 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. The most severely affected countries were in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, that have very weak health systems, lack of human and infrastructural resources and have recently emerged from long period of conflict and instability. The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared that 11,132 people have died from the Ebola virus disease in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Nigeria.

How does the disease SPREAD?

The disease spreads through close-contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals, such as chimpanzees, fruit bats and forest antelope. Ebola then spreads through human-to-human transmission via direct contact (through broken skin) with the blood and other bodily fluids of infected people and with surfaces and materials (eg. Bedding, clothing) contaminated with 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. Burial ceremonies in which mourners have direct contact with the body of the deceased person can also play a role in the transmission of Ebola. People are remained infectious as long as their blood and secretions contain the virus.

What are the SIGNS and SYMPTOMS of the disease?

The first symptoms of Ebola virus disease (EVD) are the sudden onset of fever fatigue, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. This followed by vomiting, diarrhea, rash, symptoms of impaired kidney and liver function and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding (eg. oozing from the gums, blood in the stools).

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Is there a CURE?

According to WHO (World Health Organization) there is no proven treatment available for EVD. However, a range of potential treatments including blood products, immune therapies and drug therapies are currently being evaluated. No license vaccines are available yet, but 2 potential vaccines are undergoing human safety testing.

PREVENTION and CONTROL

Reducing the risk of wildlife-to-human transmission from contact with infected fruit bats or monkey/apes and the consumption of their raw meat. Animals should be handled with gloves and other appropriate protective clothing and also animal products (blood and meat) should be thoroughly cooked before consumption.

Reducing the risk of human-to-human transmission from direct or close contact with people with Ebola symptoms, particularly with their bodily fluids. Gloves and appropriate personal protective equipment should be worn when taking care of ill patients. Regular hand washing is required after visiting patients in hospitals, as well as after taking care of patients.

Outbreak containment measures including prompt and safe burial of the dead, identifying people who may have been in contact with someone infected with Ebola and monitoring their health for 21 days, the importance of separating the healthy from the sick to prevent further spread and the importance of good hygiene and maintaining a clean environment.

Health-care workers caring with suspected or confirmed Ebola virus should apply extra infection control measures to prevent contact with the patient’s blood and body fluids and contaminated surfaces or materials such as clothing and bedding. When in close contact with EVD patients, health-care workers should wear face protection ( a face shield or a medical mask and goggles), a clean, non-sterile long-sleeved gown and gloves (sterile gloves for some procedures).

Laboratory workers. Samples taken from humans and animals for investigation of Ebola infection should be handled by trained staff and processed in suitably equipped laboratories.

WHO (World Health Organization) RESPONSE

WHO aims to prevent Ebola outbreaks by maintaining surveillance for Ebola virus disease and supporting at-risk countries to developed preparedness plans.

When an outbreak is detected, WHO responds by supporting surveillance, community engagement, case management, laboratory services, contact tracing, infection control, logistical support, as well as training and assistance with safe burial practices.