Health News of Wednesday, 13 August 2014
The Ghana Medical Association (GMA) has warned people to avoid handshakes to protect them from contracting deadly infections.
This comes amid growing panic over the spread of the viral haemorrhagic fever, Ebola, in West Africa.
“We are urging all to be wary of handshakes, particularly, at public gatherings in view of the infectious nature of the disease to protect the lives of the people”, said Dr Kwabena Opoku-Adusei, the GMA President, said.
He was speaking at a press conference at Kumasi to highlight precautionary steps people should take to prevent being exposed to the disease.
He encouraged them to wash their hands regularly, consume well-cooked meat and foods and to keep their surroundings clean.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the Ebola epidemic in West Africa an international health emergency.
Ebola hemorrhagic fever (Ebola HF) is one of numerous Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers. It is a severe, often fatal disease in humans and nonhuman primates (such as monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees).
So far, more than 960 people have died out of the over 1,700 cases reported, this year, from Guinea, Sierra-Leone, Liberia and Nigeria.
The GMA press conference came after an emergency joint meeting it held with the Ashanti Regional Security Council (REGSEC) and the Ghana Health Services (GHS) to discuss contingency plans to deal with any emergency.
Dr Opoku-Adusei said since there is no known cure for the disease, the only remedy is for the people to be alert and take precautions.
Fever, body aches, and sore throat as that of malaria and typhoid, are seen at the initial stages of Ebola infection.
As the infection progresses, patients experience severe internal bleeding with blood leaking out of their mouth, eyes, ears and the vessels.
Symptoms can begin on four to nine hours or days after infection and the incubation can last up to 21 days.
He, therefore, advised anyone who shows symptoms to rush to the hospital for prompt attention.
Ebola cannot spread through the air like flu. It is fragile in nature so can be checked with soap solution, detergents and disinfectants.
Getting an infection requires direct contact with bodily fluids such as blood, urine, saliva, sweat, and semen.
Dr Opoku-Adusei appealed to all stakeholders to work together to ensure that Ghana is kept safe from the disease.
He underlined the need for intensification of public education to create the awareness among the people.
The first Ebolavirus species was discovered in 1976, in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo, near the Ebola River. Since then, outbreaks have appeared sporadically.