The Inquirer (Monrovia)

3 April 2014

Liberia: Ebola Victim's Family Quarantined

Photo: allAfrica.com
Patients being treated at a Liberia hospital. (file photo)

Since the confirmation by Liberia's Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Dr. Walter Gwenigale that the Ebola virus is in the country, reports gathered from the Firestone Medical Center say the immediate family members of the latest surviving victim is being medically quarantined at that medical facility. Visiting the hospital yesterday, it was observed that the victim who is just undergoing observation for day two at that facility was transferred from her home in the Firestone community on Tuesday, March 31 amidst the Health Ministry's charade that they knew her to be at the medical center since the incident was reported.

Doctors from the medical center under a careful medical escort took the victim along with her husband and three children to their facility to curtail the stigma that was already growing in the community she had resided.

The victim and her entire family who are now being cared for in a special unit designed for guests and doctors in the compound of the facility is said to be having a full blown Ebola while the specimens of her family members are being reviewed.

The Chief Medical Officer of Liberia, Dr. Bernice Dahn told local radio stations yesterday that the Ministry of Health was in contact with all those who encountered the patient while enroute from Foya, Lofa County last Month.

She said already specimens have been taken from those coming in contact with the victim and it is noticed that people contacting this virus take two-21 days to come down with the disease in its full stage.

Dr. Dahn, explaining the outbreak and its preventive measure along with the Director of Diseases and Preventive Services, Thomas Nagbe told the public that people have different defense mechanisms therefore it can be contacted from animals to person and from persons to persons.

They further disclosed that to date, there are 14 suspected cases reported and one death and advised that in order to avoid the risk of contracting the virus; people should avoid traveling to areas of the outbreak and refer those immediately observed with fever and other symptoms.

They also cautioned residents and citizens not to hold dead bodies of people suspected to have died from the virus adding that this is as risky as consuming meat that is likely to contain the virus such as monkey, baboon and other dry meat.

The virus is said to be similar to that of HIV and AIDS only that patients with the Ebola experience bleeding and that is difficult to contain because even the administration of injection could cause more harm therefore such victims have to be treated with only fluid instead of needles because every part of the body that is pierced will spill out blood.

However, what is more disappointing is the World Health Organization's (WHO) own role in combating the virus since it was first encountered and how the Liberian government's arm responsible for health matters is considering the tackling of the virus that has already entered two of Liberia's 15 counties. To present, the Ministry is yet to liaise with the medical center that is catering to the only active victim of the virus in the country.

The Firestone Medical Center is a company-owned health center that caters mainly to the health needs of its employees and their immediate family members and sources at the hospital said beside speaking about the virus in the media, the government's health team has disappointingly failed to render assistance to the health team regarding their immediate acceptance of victims of said virus.

The motorbike rider who assisted the victim to the clinic told a local radio station yesterday that Dr. Dahn has not seen him nor did she contact him as she had revealed in the media. The Good Samaritan only identified as John said he took the lady to the clinic and that he was afraid of being infected with the virus.

It is reported that his specimen has also been taken at the Firestone Hospital where he had gone and called on the public to consider that the disease is real and that it is in the country.

Ebola virus also called Ebola fever is a rare and often fatal illness that humans and nonhuman primates (such as monkeys and gorillas) can contract even though there are some evidences that the Ebola virus can be spread through the air.

The World Health Organization report states that the virus was first noticed in 1976 and that it disappeared but what is still troubling is what medical mechanisms have been put in place to contain the virus in its 38 years of existence.

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