Thursday, 16 October 2014

How Akpabio, Ememabasi Bassey tamed Ebola in Uyo BY NSEOBONG DAVID

How Akpabio, Ememabasi Bassey tamed Ebola in Uyo BY NSEOBONG DAVIDHow Akpabio, Ememabasi Bassey tamed Ebola in Uyo BY NSEOBONG DAVID
Ebola virus disease (EVD), Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF), or simply Ebola is a disease of humans and other primates caused by an ebola virus. Symptoms start two days to three weeks after contracting the virus, with a fever, sore throat, muscle pain, and headaches. Typically, vomiting, diarrhea, and rash follow, along with decreased function of the liver and kidneys. Around this time, affected people may begin to bleed both within the body and externally. 

The virus may be acquired upon contact with blood or other bodily fluids of an infected human or other animal. Spreading through the air has not been documented in the natural environment.  Fruit bats are believed to be a carrier and may spread the virus without being affected. Once human infection occurs, the disease may spread between people, as well. Male survivors may be able to transmit the disease via semen for nearly two months. To diagnose EVD, other diseases with similar symptoms such as malaria, cholera and other viral hemorrhagic fevers are first excluded. Blood samples are tested for viral antibodies, viral RNA, or the virus itself to confirm the diagnosis. 

Signs and symptoms of Ebola virus disease (EVD) usually begin suddenly with an influenza-like stage characterized by fatigue, fever, headaches, joint, muscle, and abdominal pain. Vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite are also common. Less common symptoms include the following: sore throat, chest pain, hiccups, shortness of breath, and trouble swallowing. The average time between contracting the infection and the start of symptoms (incubation period) is 8 to 10 days, but it can vary between 2 and 21 days. Skin manifestations may include a maculopapular rash (in about 50% of cases). Early symptoms of EVD may be similar to those of malaria, dengue fever, or other tropical fevers, before the disease progresses to the bleeding phase. 

In 40–50% of cases, bleeding from puncture sites and mucous membranes (e.g., gastrointestinal tract, nose, vagina, and gums) has been reported.  In the bleeding phase, which typically begins five to seven days after first symptoms, internal and subcutaneous bleeding may present itself in the form of reddened eyes and bloody vomit. Bleeding into the skin may create petechiae, purpura, ecchymoses, and hematomas (especially around needle injection sites). Sufferers may cough up blood, vomit it, or excrete it in their stool. 

Heavy bleeding is rare and is usually confined to the gastrointestinal tract. In general, the development of bleeding symptoms often indicates a worse prognosis and this blood loss can result in death. All people infected show some signs of circulatory system involvement, including impaired blood clotting. If the infected person does not recover, death due to multiple organ dysfunction syndrome occurs within 7 to 16 days (usually between days 8 and 9) after first symptoms. 

EVD is caused by four of five viruses classified in the genus Ebolavirus, family Filoviridae, order Mononegavirales. The four disease-causing viruses are Bundibugyo virus (BDBV), Sudan virus (SUDV), Taï Forest virus (TAFV), and one called, simply, Ebola virus (EBOV, formerly Zaire Ebola virus). Ebola virus is the sole member of the Zaire ebolavirus species and the most dangerous of the known EVD-causing viruses, as well as being responsible for the largest number of outbreaks. The fifth virus, Reston virus (RESTV), is not thought to be disease-causing in humans. These five viruses are closely related to marburgviruses.

Human-to-human transmission can occur via direct contact with blood or body fluid from an infected person (including embalming of an infected dead person) or by contact with objects contaminated by the virus, particularly needles and syringes. Other body fluids that may transmit ebolaviruses include saliva, mucus, vomit, feces, sweat, tears, breast milk, urine, and semen. Entry points include the nose, mouth, eyes, or open wounds, cuts and abrasions. 

The potential for widespread EVD infections is considered low as the disease is only spread by direct contact with the secretions from someone who is showing signs of infection. The symptoms limit a person’s ability to spread the disease as they are often too sick to travel. Because dead bodies are still infectious, traditional burial rituals may spread the disease. Nearly two thirds of the cases of Ebola in Guinea during the 2014 outbreak are believed to be due to burial practices. Semen may be infectious in survivors for up to 7 weeks. It is not entirely clear how an outbreak is initially started. The initial infection is believed to occur after an ebolavirus is transmitted to a human by contact with an infected animal’s body fluids.

One of the primary reasons for spread is that the health systems in the part of Africa where the disease occurs function poorly. Medical workers who do not wear appropriate protective clothing may contract the disease. Hospital-acquired transmission has occurred in African countries due to the reuse of needles and lack of universal precautions. Some healthcare centers caring for people with the disease do not have running water. 

Airborne transmission has not been documented during EVD outbreaks. They are, however, infectious as breathable 0.8–1.2 ìm laboratory-generated droplets.  The virus has been shown to travel, without contact, from pigs to primates, although the same study failed to demonstrate similar transmission between non-human primates. 

Bats drop partially eaten fruits and pulp, then land mammals such as gorillas and duikers feed on these fallen fruits. This chain of events forms a possible indirect means of transmission from the natural host to animal populations, which has led to research towards viral shedding in the saliva of bats. Fruit production, animal behavior, and other factors vary at different times and places that may trigger outbreaks among animal populations. 

When I heard about ebola and its swift deadly effects on human lives, I could not help but panic.  I panicked because the way and manner it is contacted made me wonder if the disease can ever be escaped by anyone in this state, if it eventually visits Akwa Ibom State because nearly no activity in the state is carried out without involving two, three ten, hundreds of people.  Imagine two victims of the deadly Ebola virus who are visibly infected with the disease entering Itam market on an “etaha itam” market day to buy “OK” materials; I can assure you that before those victims complete their transactions for the day, ten or more people would have contacted the disease too.   

But the state Ministry of Health through the pragmatic leadership of Dr. Ememabasi Bassey took it upon himself to stop the visit of the deadly diseases to the state, despite its occurrence in neighbouring states.  Dr. Bassey made sure that the people were properly sensitized and serious awareness on the outbreak and prevention of the ebola virus disease.  At a certain point, I started hearing slogans like: “the fear of Ebola is the beginning of cleanliness.”  In fact, cleanliness became a conscious habit of everyone I came in contact with, the use of hand sanitizer; regular hand washing and other health care tips were the watch word of everyone, courtesy of the Ministry of Health. 

The health boss made it a matter of personal concern to ensure that the dreaded Ebola virus did not visit Akwa Ibom State.  He made available some personal protective equipments as well as making sure that intensive screening exercise are conducted in most organizations and schools in the state, all in a bid to ensure an Ebola-free Akwa Ibom State.

I cannot count the number of times I have been screened at major entrances of the University of Uyo; nearly all private and government owned establishments now screen people for Ebola virus; and this made me to conclude that we have an active Ministry of Health headed by an active Commissioner for health in Akwa Ibom State.

Thank God that today, Ebola virus disease and its prevalence has not been once mentioned as a case in Akwa Ibom State because of the pragmatic approaches taken by the pragmatic leadership of Dr. Ememabasi Bassey to stop its contacts and spread in the state.

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