Friday 23 August 2019

Information on Ebola Virus

Courtesy of the Synapse and Infectious Diseases Prevention and Control Unit 

Up till 27th July, there have been 1201 cases and 672 deaths with outbreaks occurring in 3 West African countries ( Guinea, Sierre Leonne and Liberia. A death occurred in Nigeria of a Liberian man who flew there and developed symptoms while travelling by plane.

This is a viral infection with 50-90% case fatality rate. The incubation period is between two and 21 days. A person will become contagious once they start to show symptoms.

Case definition:

Any person presenting with symptoms of sudden acute onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat.

Followed by nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea, conjunctivitis, maculopapular rash on torso which quickly spreads to limbs and head and develops kidney and liver impairment.

PLUS history of travel to West Africa (Guinea, Sierre Leone or Liberia)

Or contact with an infected person or animal(live or dead) 

The final stages include internal and external bleeding from eyes, ears, moth and other orifices. Patients die of multiple organ failure usually occurring between 8-17 days after falling ill.

There is no specific treatment except intensive supportive care. 

Transmission of disease

• Contact with blood, body fluids or tissues from an infected person ( alive or dead).

• Can also become contaminated from vomiting, diarrhoea , saliva ( even from a kiss), sweat from a mopped brow, urine of an infected person.

• Contact with wild infected animals ( alive or dead)

• Consumption of raw or uncooked bush meat.

• Contact with objects contaminated with the Ebola virus like needles. A person can also become infected if broken skin comes into contact with a victim’s soiled clothing, bed linen or used needles

• Unprotected sex unprotected sexual contact with an infected person up to seven weeks after they have recovered since men can still spread the virus to their partner through their semen for seven weeks after recovery

Blood Tests

Specific blood test to detect Ebola virus.

Other tests will show lymphopenia, severe thromocytopenia, transaminase elevation (AST greater than ALT). Can have elevated creatinine and urea.

Who is most at risk?

Those at risk during an outbreak include:
• health workers
• family members or others in close contact with infected people
• mourners with direct contact with the bodies of deceased victims
• hunters in contact with dead animals

The risk of travellers contracting Ebola Virus is considered low because it requires direct contact with bodily fluids or secretions such as blood, urine, sweat or saliva. There is no airborne transmission so it cannot spread like flu through casual contact or breathing in the same air

If you come across a patient who fits the case definition, it is important to isolate the person in a room and contact IDCU oncall number 79004731.

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