Still on the hottest issue in the country right about now, Ebola which is quite literally going viral all over; the market for hand sanitizers turned lucrative overnight as the demand rose following speculations that the chemicals were adequate protection against contracting Ebola. We recently learned though that hand sanitizers are anti-bacterial, whereas the Ebola is a virus whose survival abilities are on quite a different tangent from bacteria. Hand sanitizers are not ineffective – as they are great sanitary helps – but washing your hand with soap and water is just as effective, if not more in protecting you from picking up Ebola.
So beware of people with ads like this one I caught on Google…
The information above and even more which you will find below were made available to us here at ‘Words Are Work’ by Chika Ibeh. The lovely young lady is a final year student of the College of Medicine, University of Lagos and very recently, she sat down with me to share some of the following invaluable knowledge about Ebola.
Ebola Virus Disease is caused by four of five viruses classified in the genus Ebola virus, family Filoviridae, order Mononegavirales. These five viruses include:
- Bundibugyo virus (BDBV),
- Ebola virus (EBOV),
- Sudan virus (SUDV),
- Taï Forest virus (TAFV).
- The fifth virus, Reston virus (RESTV), is thought not to be disease-causing in humans.
Many of us have heard that Ebola is caused primarily by fruit bats, and that we ought to ostracize all manner of bush meat from our diets as a result. If like me, you have wondered about the lack of any obvious connections between the fruit bats and traditional sources of bush meat, the following is for you – How Ebola passes on from fruit bats to man:
“Bats drop partially eaten fruits and pulp, then terrestrial mammals such as gorillas and duikers feed on these fallen fruits. This chain of events forms a possible indirect means of transmission from the natural host to animal populations, which have led to research towards viral shedding in the saliva of bats. Fruit production, animal behavior, and other factors vary at different times and places that may trigger outbreaks among animal populations. Transmission between natural reservoirs and humans are rare, and outbreaks are usually traceable to a single index case where an individual has handled the carcass of gorilla, chimpanzee, or duiker. Fruit bats are also eaten by people in parts of West Africa where they are smoked, grilled or made into a spicy soup. The virus then spreads person-to-person, especially within families, hospitals, and during some mortuary rituals where contact among individuals becomes more likely.”
Preventive care against the contraction of Ebola can be split in three: Pre – care to shore up defences against catching it; Peri – to shore up defences during a suspected outbreak; Post – care around carriers and Ebola-ridden corpses.
- Human consumption of equatorial animals in Africa in the form of bush-meat has been linked to the transmission of diseases to people, including Ebola. Abstinence from consumption of such is hereby strongly advised.
- Reston Ebola virus (see classification above) in domestic animals should be tested for and controlled. No animal vaccine against RESTV is available. Routine cleaning and disinfection of pig or monkey farms (with sodium hypochlorite or other detergents) should be effective in deactivating the virus.
- If an outbreak is suspected, the premises should be quarantined immediately. Culling of infected animals, with close supervision of burial or incineration of carcasses, may be necessary to reduce the risk of animal-to-human transmission. Restricting or banning the movement of animals from infected farms to other areas can reduce the spread of the disease.
- As RESTV outbreaks in pigs and monkeys have preceded human infections, the establishment of an active animal health surveillance system to detect new cases is essential in providing early warning for veterinary and human public health authorities.
- Pig farms in Africa can play a role in the amplification of infection because of the presence of fruit bats on these farms. Appropriate bio-security measures should be in place to limit transmission. Gloves and other appropriate protective clothing should be worn when handling sick animals or their tissues and when slaughtering animals. In regions where RESTV has been reported in pigs, all animal products (blood, meat and milk) should be thoroughly cooked before eating.
- Human-to-human transmission of the Ebola virus is primarily associated with direct or indirect contact with blood and body fluids. It is not always possible to identify patients with EBV early because initial symptoms may be non-specific. For this reason, it is important that health-care workers apply standard precautions consistently with all patients – regardless of their diagnosis – in all work practices at all times. These include basic hand hygiene, respiratory hygiene, the use of personal protective equipment (according to the risk of splashes or other contact with infected materials), safe injection practices and safe burial practices.
- Health-care workers caring for patients with suspected or confirmed Ebola virus should apply, in addition to standard precautions, other infection control measures to avoid any exposure to the patient’s blood and body fluids and direct unprotected contact with the possibly contaminated environment. When in close contact (within 1 metre) of patients with EBV, health-care workers should wear face protection (a face shield or a medical mask and goggles), a clean, non-sterile long-sleeved gown, and gloves (sterile gloves for some procedures).
- Laboratory workers are also at risk. Samples taken from suspected human and animal Ebola cases for diagnosis should be handled by trained staff and processed in suitably equipped laboratories.
- Reducing the risk of human-to-human transmission in the community arising from direct or close contact with infected patients, particularly with their bodily fluids. Close physical contact with Ebola patients should be avoided. Gloves and appropriate personal protective equipment should be worn when taking care of ill patients at home. Regular hand washing is required after visiting patients in hospital, as well as after taking care of patients at home
- As an outbreak of Ebola progresses, bodily fluids from diarrhea, vomiting, and bleeding represent a hazard. Due to lack of proper equipment and hygienic practices, large-scale epidemics occur mostly in poor, isolated areas without modern hospitals or well-educated medical staff. Many areas where the infectious reservoir exists have just these characteristics. In such environments all that can be done is to immediately cease all needle-sharing or use without adequate sterilization procedures, isolate patients, and observe strict barrier nursing procedures with the use of a medical-rated disposable face mask, gloves, goggles, and a gown at all times, strictly enforced for all medical personnel and visitors.
- Communities affected by Ebola should inform the population about the nature of the disease and about outbreak containment measures, including burial of the dead. People who have died from Ebola should be promptly and safely buried.
- All epidemics of Ebola have occurred in sub-optimal hospital conditions, where practices of basic hygiene and sanitation are often either luxuries or unknown to caretakers and where disposable needles and autoclaves are unavailable or too expensive. In modern hospitals with disposable needles and knowledge of basic hygiene and barrier nursing techniques, Ebola has never spread on a large scale. In isolated settings such as a quarantined hospital or a remote village, most victims are infected shortly after the first case of infection is present. The quick onset of symptoms from the time the disease becomes contagious in an individual makes it easy to identify sick individuals and limits an individual’s ability to spread the disease by travelling. Because bodies of the deceased are still infectious, some doctors had to take measures to properly dispose of dead bodies in a safe manner despite local traditional burial rituals.
Life is precious, and singular. Preserve yours
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