The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has continued to simmer, but the World Health organization is now reporting a surge in new cases. This could partly be due to people having a mistrust of medical treatment and removing their family members from medical facilities and hospitals contrary to the advice of doctors
The death toll from Ebola in Sierra Leone has doubled to at least 12 in a week, local health authorities said on Monday, deepening the spread of a disease that has killed over 200 people in Guinea and Liberia.
The mounting deaths in Sierra Leone, which had been spared cases for months after Ebola was confirmed in the region in March, underscore the challenges weak health systems face tackling one of the deadliest diseases on the planet. Amara Jambai, Sierra Leone’s Director of Disease Prevention and Control, said all the confirmed deaths in Sierra Leone were in the east, mainly in the Kailahun district on the border with Guinea.
“It is very difficult for us to ascertain community deaths at this moment, but the 12 deaths are the ones the hospital can definitely confirm to have died of Ebola,”
Jambai said. Jambai added that there were now 42 confirmed cases of Ebola from 113 people tested and new cases had been recorded in the northern district of Kambia. Ebola was confirmed in a remote corner of Guinea in March and then later spread to Guinea’s distant capital, Conakry, and over the border into Liberia.
All suspected cases in Sierra Leone tested negative until last month and Jambai said that the disease was spreading as authorities are struggling to control the movement of people. International medical experts have been dispatched to Sierra Leone, but they face a combination of poor existing health systems and tensions among locals fueled by the lack of understanding over the disease. Two weeks ago, relatives removed an Ebola patient from a treatment center in Koindu as they doubted the disease existed. Iron ore producers London Mining and African Minerals have imposed some restrictions on staff in Sierra Leone as a result of the outbreak but the firms say their output has so far not been affected (source)
Like so many diseases the symptoms of Ebola Haemorraghic fever resemble those of a gastric upset. Symptoms include:
- Joint and muscle aches
- Weakness and general malaise
- Stomach pain
- Loss of appetite
As more and more of us travel the globe it’s vital to maintain high standards of hygiene, particularly hand washing. All cuts and grazes should be covered when traveling in Africa. All bodily secretions, including semen carries the virus in infected individuals. Ebola enters the body through breaks in the skin or through secretions coming into contact with mucous membranes such as the inside of the mouth, male and female genitalia, the anus, nose and eyes.
Bushmeat should be avoided and all food eaten in affected areas should be well cooked, over cooked in fact to ensure destruction of the virus in meat. Fruit and vegetables should be washed and then peeled, or the outer layer removed, to avoid contaminating the flesh inside. It should be assumed that all fruit and veg has come into contact with infected animals, that way there is no need to wonder what to peel and what to eat as it comes.
Ebola virus disease, West Africa – update
Disease Outbreak News
10 June 2014
On 5 June 2014, a new district, Kouroussa, reported 1 new case and 1 death. This brings to date a total of 7 new cases nationwide (4 confirmed, 3 suspected), including 6 new cases and 6 new deaths reported from Conakry (2 new cases and 1 death), Gueckedou (1 new case and 1 death), Macenta (1 new case and 1 death), and Telimele (2 new cases and 2 deaths) during this period.
Cumulatively the total number of cases and deaths attributable to EVD in Guinea is 351 (210 laboratory-confirmed, 83 probable, and 58 suspected) including 226 deaths by 5 June 2014. The geographical distribution of these cases and deaths is as follows: Conakry, 67 cases and 29 deaths; Gueckedou, 194 cases and 146 deaths; Macenta, 45 cases and 27 deaths; Dabola, 4 cases and 4 deaths; Kissidougou, 7 cases and 5 deaths; Dinguiraye, 1 case and 1 death; Telimele, 25 cases and 7 deaths; Boffa, 7 cases and 6 deaths; and Kouroussa, 1 case and 1 death.
In terms of isolation, 33 patients are currently hospitalized (8 in Conakry, 9 in Gueckedou, 15 in Telimele, and 1 in Boffa). The number of contacts currently being followed-up countrywide is 1011 distributed as follows: Conakry, 329 contacts; Gueckedou, 317 contacts; Macenta, 176 contacts; Telimele, 111 contacts; and Boffa, 78 contacts.
No new cases have been reported from Liberia, however 11 contacts (5 health-care workers and 6 community relatives) are currently being followed-up. These contacts were of the probable case from nearby Kailahun, Sierra Leone who died in Foya, Liberia. The deceased was taken back to Kailahun for burial.
As of 18:00 on 6 June 2014, 8 new cases (2 confirmed and 6 suspected) and 1 new death were reported from Kailahun (3 cases and 1 death), Kenema (1 case and 0 deaths), Bo (1 case and 0 deaths), Port Loko (1 case and 0 deaths), and Freetown (2 cases and 0 deaths). This brings the total number of EVD clinical cases to 89 (33 confirmed, 3 probable, and 53 suspected) including 7 deaths. All 33 confirmed cases and 7 deaths were reported from Kailahun district. The number of cases among health-care workers is 5 and deaths is 1. There are currently 11 cases in isolation at Kenema Hospital. The number of contacts currently being followed-up is 30.
Community resistance is hindering the identification and follow-up of contacts.
Overall, the total number of cases is subject to change due to the reclassification, retrospective investigation, consolidation of cases and laboratory data and enhanced surveillance.(WHO)
Tens of thousands of Europeans holiday in West Africa every year, mainly The Gambia, which is geographically very close to the outbreak.
There is no cure for Ebola, and this outbreak, which is the largest in years needs to be watched carefully. Ebola on the loose in Africa is a tragedy but having it spread around the globe would be a disaster of epic proportions.
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Contributed by Chris Carrington of The Daily Sheeple.
Chris Carrington is a writer, researcher and lecturer with a background in science, technology and environmental studies. Chris is an editor for The Daily Sheeple. Wake the flock up!