Health News of Friday, 11 April 2014

Source: Dr Essel

Ebola virus; deadlier than you can ever imagine!!

Water is often associated with life but some people will recount the devastating effect of water when it gets out of control. Ebola virus named after a river in Congo brings to memory pain and tears; no matter how dangerous you may imagine this virus to be, you are still likely to underestimate its effect. Ebola is simply put the ultimate killing machine probably only paralleled by Marburg virus that follows a very similar pattern.
This illness is marked by severe bleeding as well as multiple organ damage and nine out of ten people who get the disease die. There have been sporadic outbreaks of this disease in Africa for several decades and this year Guinea and Liberia seem to be bearing the brunt so far. One reason Ebola is so deadly is that it interferes with the immune system’s ability to fight. however we are unable to explain why some people are able to recover from this deadly illness.
The Ebola virus lives in animal hosts and bats, and humans can contract the virus from infected animals after which there can be person to person transmission through contact with body fluids and contaminated needles. Fortunately there is no evidence that Ebola can be spread via insect bites. It is known that a person can start showing symptoms/signs about 2 to 21 days after contact with an infected person. Infected people typically don’t become contagious unless they develop symptoms. There is currently no effective treatment and neither is there a vaccine to prevent it.
The initial symptoms of Ebola are very similar to Malaria and Typhoid, which makes it even more difficult to control. Some initial complaints include: fever, nausea, headache, muscle and joint pain, sore throat, cough and chills. This later develops into vomiting and diarrhoea that may all contain blood and the associated cough may also produce blood at this stage. Stomach and chest pain, red eyes and a raised rash may also occur. There is often severe weight loss. Note that bleeding can be from all orifices including mouth, nose, ears, eyes and anus.
It is important that we all take the necessary precautions but certain groups of people are at an even greater risk;
• People who live in or those who travel to areas with an outbreak.
• People who conduct animal research or those who kill and handle bush meat and bats.
• People who prepare dead bodies for burial.
• Medical and personal caregivers (this includes family members) who do not wear the appropriate protective gear.
People become extremely ill and may suffer multiple organ failure, seizures (fits), severe bleeding, coma and death.
In the rare event that one survives Ebola, recovery is very slow and painful. It takes a long time to regain weight, there are liver challenges, fatigue, hair loss and for males there are major issues with the testes.
The battle lines are drawn; No vaccine to prevent and No medication to treat except for supportive care such as blood transfusion, fluids, pain relief etc. Our best bet is to avoid this disease and we can reduce our risk by FOCUSING ON AVOIDING CONTACT WITH THE VIRUS:
1. Avoid areas with Ebola outbreak
2. Wash hands FREQUENTLY
a. Soap and water is preferred but in its absence you may use
b. Hand rubs (sanitizers) containing at least 60% alcohol
3. Avoid handling bats and other bush meat
4. Avoid contact with infected (suspicious) people dead or alive.
a. Beware of body fluids such as blood, tears, sweat, stools (toilet) and vomitus. It is better to err on the side of caution.
5. Follow infection control procedures especially if you are a health worker or caregiver
a. Proper disposal of syringes and needles and NEVER re-use these
b. Wear appropriate protective wear while handling patients
6. Don’t handle dead bodies
a. Leave that for people who are specially trained to do that
b. Why do people kiss dead bodies anyway? If you have to, do that when the person is alive and healthy.
Do not take your health for granted. Exercise regularly and eat your required portion of fruits and vegetables (to enhance your immune system), avoid smoking and reduce alcohol consumption. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water and REMEMBER this is no HUGGING season. Keep your body fluids to yourself.
If you suspect you may have contracted Ebola, be sensitive. Keep away from others and contact a healthcare facility.


Dr. Kojo Cobba Essel
Moms’ Health Club

*Dr Essel is a medical doctor and is ISSA certified in exercise therapy and fitness nutrition.

Thought for the week – “If we make PROPER hand washing with soap and water a regular feature, we will be on the path to winning the battle against most infectious diseases.”

• Mayor Clinic Staff
• MOH, Ghana - ALERTS