Ebola! Should we scare it?

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Ebola! Should we scare it?

By W.Yilma October, 6/2014

At this point in time our world is challenging in two fronts. One is the Islamic State of Iraqi and Syria (ISIS) threat and the other one is Ebola fever outbreaks. The ISIS crisis become to light by the western and USA wrong foreign policies towards Iraqi, Libya and Syria. As if they didn’t make mistakes in the past, they are again repeating the same mistakes by saying that they will defeat the ISIS by launching skies of war. Should we call it a star war? Let’s stop here talking about the Middle East war which does not have an end.

This day the word Ebola is a topic of discussion mainly for many media outlets. The first outbreak of Ebola has occurred in 1976 in Zaire, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in Yambuku area. This is the time the virus was recognized. Since then limited Ebola outbreak as endemic nature has occurred in many western African countries including Southern Sudan and Uganda. The recent outbreak occurred in Guinea since March, 2014 is managed to escape from its limit, and spill over to Sierra Leon, and Liberia. Since then Ebola become a threat to the world population, and become a discussion for many media outlets.

For further information regarding Ebola chronological outbreaks records, please refer the CDC website.

http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/outbreaks/history/chronology.html

Ebola is a virus which cause infection both in human and other non human primates, generally fatal disease marked by fever and sever internal bleeding, spread through contact with infected body fluids. Theoretically, Ebola could become Pandemic but it could not happen in practice like Black death swept into Europe on boat from the east in the 14th century or the Spanish flu , 1918 carried around the world by solders bound for or returning from the butchery of Europe’s battle ground, killed between 50 and 100 million people.

In this modern world Ebola outbreak could happen here and there with few cases around the world thanks to the technological advancement of modern transportation. But still its transmission could be limited if we all aware of the nature of the virus as well as its mode of its transmissions. The other good news is, Ebola death could be averted if timely and necessary supplementary treatment and care has provided to Ebola patients. Although few cases, of those who are admitted to western hospitals, no Ebola patient died from the disease. I Hope, the Liberian guy fate currently hospitalized in Texas hospital will be the same as those previously cured. The > 50% death rate from Ebola only happened in those countries where this kind of treatment is unthinkable.

Is Ethiopia at risk at this time, where there is a daily flight by the Ethiopian air lines to countries with Ebola outbreaks? Due to my limited knowledge in public health fields; it is wise to leave this question to public health professionals to give their opinions on this matter. However, so far the measures taken by Ethiopia Ministry of Health as part of early warning system to protect the public from Ebola outbreak should be appreciated. What I want to emphasis her is the following:

If emergency preparedness program is in place to isolate those found sick, and quarantine those suspected; if there is a capacity to trace back the source or origins of the first case, which includes follow-up those individuals who had contact with the “sick” is an important measure to effectively tackle, and contain Ebola. Educate the public about the disease to empower the community to take appropriate measure in line of the health ministry program should also be part of the emergency preparedness program.

All entrance ports should be inspected by the public health professionals, and they should be supported with legal power to take every necessary measure to protect the public. But measuring temperature alone to detect Ebola patient should not be taken as a reliable methods to protect the country from Ebola outbreak. This is because this method does not detect “patients “at incubation period with Ebola virus.

Attention should be given to western part of Ethiopia bordering Southern Sudan. This is because:

1.       South Sudan is in turmoil at this time due to the civil war. We have to know the reason why Guinea, Liberia, and sierra Leon could not mange to contain Ebola. It is not only due to lack of public health infrastructure but also the civil war torn apart the countries capacity to take necessary measures. South Sudan situation is worse than those countries mentioned above. Ethiopia is hosting thousands of Southern Sudan refuges, and our gallant peace keeping solders are in this part of the world, this must take into consideration.

2.       There were multiple outbreaks of Ebola in Southern Sudan (Nazara locality), and no one is sure the likely hood of the future.

3.       The border is porous, and hard to trace back or timely detect the disease once it introduce.

Preparing spatial epidemiological map is important to give priority for follow –up, and to allocate resources. Active disease surveillance supported by epidemiological intelligence service play a greater role to identify risk areas. Any fever in those identified as priority geographic areas should be treated as an emergency and need to be reported, and any necessary information of the patient should be recorded for follow-up when needed. It seems hard to execute this, especially in Ethiopia condition, where there are multiple diseases that could cause fever. However, until the Ebola outbreaks subsidized worldwide, following this simple data recording procedures should be a mandatory for any hospitals or clinics, including in remotest areas. Because of its externalities some countries considered Ebola as a political disease and a possibility to cover-up in case of outbreak in their territory. Therefore to overcome this problem, active disease surveillance supported by epidemiological intelligence service play a greater role to identify risk areas. Lesson can be learnt from Nigeria, the way they effectively managed to contain the outbreak of Ebola in their country was amazing.

 

Last, yes we should scare Ebola, but we should not be panic, as we should be to SARS and avian or Birds flue, which spread by droplet nuclei or dust through the air. Unless there is a close contact, and exposed (become in contact) with blood or body fluids (including but not limited to urine, saliva, sweat, vomit, breast milk, and semen) of a person who is sick with Ebola, there is no reason to be worried about this disease. But this does not mean we should avoid being vigilant for Ebola. Public health personnel could be infected if exposed to needles contaminated with the virus, or from sick or infected non-human primate. Ignoring what the media outlets are echoing, politicians should be relied on professional advice.

Long Live Ethiopia



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