General News of 2014-05-25

Ghana has no recorded case of Ebola – Dr Sarkodie

All eight suspected cases of the Ebola Virus Disease in Ghana have proved negative, but are still being monitored, to ensure that nothing is left to chance, Dr Badu Sakordie, Head of Disease Surveillance of the Ghana Health Service, has disclosed.

“Even though Ghana has not recorded a case, it will remain vigilant,” he said. With high fatality of 25 to 95 percent, Ebola is one of the world’s most virulent diseases, and is transmitted to humans from wild animals and between human’s direct contact with blood, faecal matter, sweat, or by sexual contact and the unprotected handling of contaminated corpse.

Fruit bats are natural hosts for Ebola.

Symptoms of Ebola include severe fever, muscle pain vomiting, diarrhea and weakness, and in some cases, Ebola can cause key human organs to shut down, leading to unstoppable bleeding.

Interacting with the Media in Accra, Dr Sarkodie recounted that the disease was first discovered in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1976, but has since not been detected in people in West Africa.

For this reason, Dr Sakordie advised that, Ghana needs to protect itself from neighbouring countries, but care should be taken so that international regulations are not breached due to undue restrictions.

He pointed out that bats in Ghana were not the fruits-eating ones that are carriers of the disease, however, some in the Brong-Ahafo Region have antigens, which means that they have one time or the other been carriers of the disease, but their immune system was able to overcome the virus.

In Africa, infection has been documented through the handling of infected chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats, monkeys, forest antelopes and porcupines, found dead or ill in the rain forest.

Direct physical contact with body fluids of infected persons, like blood, saliva, stool, urine and soiled linen.

Burial ceremonies where mourners have direct contact with the body of the deceased person can also play a role in the transmission of Ebola.

Dr Sakordie said measures to be taken to prevent Ebola Virus Disease include, public education to raise awareness of the risk factors of Ebola infection, and the protective measures individuals can take to prevent and reduce human infection and death, adding that this was crucial as there was no vaccine or medicine for the disease.

He advised persons suspected to be suffering from Ebola should be taken to the nearest health units immediately, and persons who have died from Ebola should be promptly and safely buried under strict supervision of health personnel.

According to him, people should resort to the use of gloves or improvise with polythene when necessary if handling persons suspected to have symptoms of the disease.

Other measures include reporting of any suspected cases of Ebola to the nearest health unit immediately, washing hands with soap and water after handling a patient, or the body of a person who has died of Ebola.

Avoid washing of hands from a common bowl during funeral rites and other public gatherings, providing information to people about the nature of the disease, its spread, and how it can be prevented.

He explained that a National Technical Coordinating Committee meeting has developed comprehensive preparedness and response plans for Ebola, and is working with WHO Country Representative for technical support and advice.

Fact Sheet on Ebola, and a surveillance and interim Infection Control Recommendations by WHO have been sent to all Regional Directors of Health Services, in addition to alert messages to regions, districts and health facilities.

The Ebola virus has already claimed more than 80 lives in Guinea alone. It has also killed more than five people in Liberia.

As at May 12, a total of 248 suspected cases, including 171 deaths (case fatality ratio had been reported from six districts including Conakry the capital of Guinea.

Since the update, five new cases have been confirmed but no death has been recorded with a total of 480 under follow-up.