With memories of the 2014 West African Ebola Virus Disease outbreak still relatively fresh, Nigerians should not take the ongoing outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC, lightly.
The Federal Government has assured of adequate surveillance at the nation's Ports of Entry, but the declaration by the World Health organisation, WHO, that Nigeria and nine other African countries are at moderate risk of the disorder, gives reason to be at alert.
Now more than ever, the need to be protected against the Ebola Virus Disease is paramount.
Although tropical disease experts are optimistic that that the outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in DRC could spread to Nigeria and other countries, adequate preventive measures need to be taken.
Ebola is an incurable and deadly diseaase, but it can be prevented. The Ebola virus is transmitted by direct contact with blood, saliva, sweat, vomit and urine, and tissues of infected people or animals.
Although there is no vaccine and no specific treatment for Ebola, there are a number of measures people can take to protect themselves.
Know the warning signs
Symptoms of Ebola can appear as soon as two days, or as long as 21 days, after infection with the Ebola virus.
When a person becomes infected with Ebola virus, the virus begins to multiply within the body. After four to six days on average, Ebola symptoms can begin. The period between infection with the virus and the start of Ebola symptoms is called the incubation period. The Ebola incubation period can be as short as two days or as long as 21 days.
The start of Ebola symptoms is usually abrupt. Common symptoms can include: Fever, sore throat, weakness, severe headache, joint and muscle aches, diarrhoea, vomiting, dehydration, hacking cough and stomach pain. A rash, red eyes, hiccups, and internal and external bleeding may be seen in some patients.
Ebola prevention focuses on preventing direct contact with body fluids of those infected with the virus.
Importance of hand washing
Handwashing is like a "do-it-yourself" vaccine--it involves five simple and effective steps (wet, lather, scrub, rinse, dry). Regular hand-washing is one of the best ways to remove germs, avoid getting sick, and prevent the spread of germs to others. Knowing when and how to wash your hands, the importance of using soap and water, and what you can do if soap and clean, running water are not available is crucial.
How to wash your hands
Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap. -Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather backs of your hands, between fingers, and under your nails.
Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds.
Rinse hands well under clean, running water.
Dry hands using a clean towel or air dry them.
Alcohol-based hand sanitisers can be used as an alternative.
Avoid contact with anyone you believe is infected with undiagnosed fever.
Healthcare workers should wear protective clothing including a face mask and gloves and avoid shaking hands with patients.