How to take precaution against Ebola virus

EBOLA outbreak in the Great Lakes countries is a threat to human security in this area, so precautionary measures need to be taken so that we avoid the disease that continues to increase in this region.

Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) is a rare and deadly disease in people and nonhuman primates.

The viruses that cause EVD are located mainly in sub-Saharan Africa. People can get EVD through direct contact with an infected animal (bat or nonhuman primate), a sick or dead person infected with Ebola virus.

The government through the Minister of Health, Ms Ummy Mwalimu has asked Tanzanians to take precautions against the disease by following all the conditions given against the disease as well as taking steps to start border testing for people coming from foreign countries to enter our country.

The disease that is caused by the Ebola virus is a dangerous disease capable of causing death by 90 per cent, until now there is no cure for the disease, but the patient is treated based on the symptoms he shows.

This includes the patients being given supportive treatment according to the symptoms he has, such as reducing fever and pain, transfusion of blood and fluids in the body and nutritional therapy.

The precautions needed are avoiding holding hands, washing with soap and running water, rubbing hands with sanitizer, avoiding intercourse without using condoms; these are things emphasized by health experts in dealing with the epidemic.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says that the disease was first identified in 1976 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Sudan, however, other countries such as Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Nigeria, Senegal, Mali and Uganda also do face the disease.

The source of this virus is still unknown, but bats (Pteropodidae) seem to be carriers of the virus, according to the current evidence. Outbreak of the disease has largely been caused by human-to-human transmission and occurs when a person is infected through the open parts of his body through the fluids of an Ebola patient.

Objects such as vomit, toilet, saliva, semen and blood cause a person to get infected with the disease, but infection can also occur if the transparent skin of a person who does not have the disease is exposed to fluid containing the virus contained in dirty clothes, patient sheets or used needles.

Health workers may encounter fluids from the body of an Ebola patient when they are providing care to those patients.

This happens if they do not have the appropriate protective clothing or did not follow the protective procedures when they are caring for patients and WHO wants health care providers at all levels whether hospitals, clinics or health centres to be informed about the Ebola disease, as it is transmitted and consider methods to prevent its spread.

WHO does not advise families or communities to care for patients who may have symptoms of Ebola in their homes; instead it want them to receive care at a hospital or health centre. WHO says other infections are found at funerals or funeral tragedies in those activities when mourners come into contact with the body of the deceased and put themselves at risk of contracting the disease.

So when there are tragedies and funerals of those who died of Ebola should be done with a large level of protection by wearing special clothes and those who die should be buried immediately and the funeral should be done under the supervision of health professionals.

A person can be infected with the Ebola virus if his blood or body fluids contain the virus, therefore, Ebola patients should be under highlevel care from specialists and be examined to ensure that the virus is no longer present in the body before returning home.

When the health professionals, after the test, determine that the patients are safe to return home because they have recovered and no longer have the virus, they cannot infect others, they can now allow the patients to return home.

However, men who have recovered from the disease can still be infected through sexual intercourse within seven weeks after recovery, so they are advised not to have sex within seven weeks after recovery and if he has to have sex, he must use a male condom.

During an outbreak, those most at risk of contracting the Ebola disease are health workers, family members or other people close to the Ebola patient, mourners who hold the body of the Ebola patient as part of the funeral service.

The symptoms of Ebola are sudden fever, deep fatigue, muscle pain, headache, dry throat and the condition is followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rashes, kidney failure, liver failure, and sometimes blood starts to leak inside and out of the body. After the symptoms appear, the disease can be detected between two to 21 days and then the patient can infect others.

When the disease is not identified, a person cannot infect another person and the confirmation of this disease is found only in the laboratory. There is currently no drug or vaccine registered to treat Ebola virus disease, however several drugs are being developed and the WHO has approved experimental therapy to be used to treat patients.

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) announced the end of the disease in the province of East North Kivu recently and this is according to the minister for health.

The 15th outbreak in the DRC emerged after it was discovered in the Beni area on August 22, Investigation showed that the case was genetically linked to the 2018-2020 outbreak in the states of North Kivu and Ituri, which killed nearly 2,300 people and another from the explosion killed six people last year.

“After 42 days of intensified surveillance without a new confirmed case I am happy to announce the end of the 15th Ebola epidemic which lasted one month and 12 days,” the minister said.

The dense tropical forests of the Congo are a natural reservoir for the Ebola virus, which causes fever, body aches, and diarrhoea. The country has recorded 14 outbreaks since 1976.

The 2018-2020 East outbreaks were the largest in Congo and the second largest ever recorded, with 3,500 cases in total. The most recent outbreak in Congo was in North-West Equatorial province,where it was announced in July after the death of five people.

Tanzanians have every reason to take precautions against the epidemic of the disease because there is big interaction due to social and commercial activities with neighboring countries that are facing this problem, so let us consider the saying of the elders that “prevention is better than cure” so that Tanzania will be safe.

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