Vanguard (Lagos)

3 August 2014

Nigeria: Ebola - No Need for Panic, Understand the Facts

Photo: Leadership
Ebola virus

analysis

"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."- Benjamin Franklin

The first time that I heard Ebola was from a Reader's Digest that I read many years ago. The depiction of its virulence, rampant potency of the disease was that of horrific movies. So I thought it was consigned to the past. Was I wrong? The virus emerged in 1976 in an isolated village near the Ebola River in the Democratic Republic of Congo and that is where it got its name - Ebola; Ebola is real and so far, has claimed hundreds of lives in West Africa and rest of the world is anxiously waiting that it does not visit its shores. The latest outbreak in West Africa is the worst on record - killing more than 670 people - and is also the first to affect people in cities and not just remote villages. In Guinea, the epidemic has reached the capital, Conakry. "The scientific world agreed that it is a major concern that might spread to the rest of the world. We all need to take personal responsibility and ensure that we do not help to spread the disease.

Ebola is a virus that causes a potentially lethal illness called hemorrhagic fever. It renders the body's blood vessels porous and they start to leak, causing catastrophic internal bleeding. It is said that up to nine out of ten people who contract the virus will die without immediate medical attention. It is actually pretty hard to catch Ebola.

It is not airborne and contrary to the rumour mill, unless if bodily fluids was. The major outbreak of Ebola disease has killed at least 672 people so far in West Africa and British airports and airlines are on high alert to stop passenger's disease, Passengers thought to have virus are being barred from taking flights to UK as Ebola can spread through sweat and saliva and there is no vaccine or cure yet.

This is so close to home and it has become a worldwide concern as people from Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia have not been infected and two cases reported in Lagos has got the world in a head spin. Here in the UK, experts warned deadly Ebola virus could spread to Britain through MEAT: it is concerned that contaminated meats illegally smuggled into UK could carry killer bug and may be 'on a market stall in London'

Medics in full gear to avoid contracting the virus

This Tuesday, the UK Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond chaired an emergency Cobra meeting on the growing fears that the virus could enter Britain from Africa. Unlike the West African countries, health authorities have the infrastructure to cope.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron said of the outbreak, was a "very serious threat" to the UK.

What are the symptoms of Ebola? Here lies the problem; it can be confused with other lesser illnesses as the initial symptoms are quite non-specific and similar to a flu-like illness. They include fever, headache and lethargy. This progresses to severe diarrhea and vomiting.' The incubation period for the virus varies from two days to three weeks. Despite the seriousness of the disease, which causes bleeding from the mouth, ears and eyes, preventing it spreading is relatively simple. A sudden temperature, muscle aches, vomiting or a rash might indicate that someone may have contracted the disease. It is highly recommended that infected person is isolated from others to avoid and limit spreading,

According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention they have advised people to wash hands thoroughly with warm water and soap or, if that is not available, a hand sanitizer can be used.

Due to proximity of Nigeria to the Ebola-affected countries, it is not surprising that Patrick Sawyer, a passenger from Liberia en route to America, was allowed to board multiple international flights. It was reported that he was vomiting and suffering from diarrhea, he flew from Liberia, stopped over in Ghana, changed planes in Togo and died in Nigeria. So Nigeria is on the alert and all Nigerian passengers travelling abroad may notice that stringent monitoring will be applied when they travel to other countries abroad. The international authorities considered that they may even halt air travel from Nigeria in order to curtail the spread of the disease.

Unfortunately, some callous Nigerians see this as an opportunity to cash in on the tragedy. It has been reported that Nigerian fraudsters are deceptively claiming that they can cure Ebola if it breaks out there.

Lagos State Government also has warned the Nigerian public to be wary of some pastors who claim to have cure for the dreaded Ebola virus. It is sad that some people see opportunities in such tragic circumstances.

The Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Aderemi Ibirogba, specifically warned people not to fall for the fraudsters who were reportedly making spurious claims about their ability to provide cure for the deadly virus. He called on those who wanted to rip off members of the public to desist from such claims of cure or risk arrest and prosecution. And concluded that "Only medical solutions are known to be appropriate for the disease"

At present there is no known cure but severely ill patients would require intensive supportive care and intravenous fluids to rehydrate them. Some patients will recover with the appropriate care one in nine will recover from the disease

Aregbesola,Omisore Clash that never was

Despite the promise that Omisore and Aregbesola will have an American like Live debate. The usually ebullient Omisore failed to turn up. He was back - tracking and giving spurious excuses for not participating. He does not seem big after all. When it came time to deliver, only Rauf Aregbesola, was there on his own to answer questions about his administration. The lackluster effort of the opposition was very telling as one opposition candidate, Mr. Akinbade, sent his running mate to stand in for him. The organizers disallowed him from participating, sticking to the rules that candidates would not be represented by proxies. The candidate of the Unity Party of Nigeria [UPN], Ibrahim Adeoti, who was not invited to the debate, however walked into the studio towards the end of the programme, insisting to be allowed to participate. He was allowed time to speak. Organizers said they were shocked that Omisore and Akinbade failed to attend the debate. The organizers said that: "We wrote to them and up to 20 minutes to the beginning of the programme, they were still giving us the impression they would be attending,

Apparently, Omisore said he was not properly invited to the debate! This debate has been written about for a long time. Omisore through his spin doctor said that he (Omisore) did not receive any formal letter inviting him. Well, the flip flopping has already started and I think it will get murkier from here on. Whatever the case, I am sure that Aregbesola's achievements speaks for itself and the people of Osun will do the right thing and vote with their conscience. One can only hope for a free and fair election.

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