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Airline acts on worst-ever outbreak of dreaded disease

July 31, 2014 Destination Global, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59As Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) issued an advisory to warn travellers about the latest outbreak of Ebola, the infectious fatal disease, a major African regional airline suspended flights to the cities hardest hit by the contagion that has killed more than 670 people.

DFAT has confirmed that this is the largest and most serious outbreak ever recorded of the lethal Ebola Virus Disease (EVD). The disease has no vaccine and no specific treatment and it kills at least 60% of all people who catch it. The fatality rate can climb to 90%.

In a statement released yesterday, West African airline ASKY said it was suspending flights to Monrovia, the capital of Liberia, and to Freetown, Sierra Leone. Flights will continue to the capital of the third major country where people have died from Ebola – Guinea, but departing passengers will be “screened for signs of the virus”.Ebola - doctors treat a victim

In Britain, Sir Mark Walport, the UK government’s Chief Scientific Advisor, said an increasingly interconnected world was placing Britons at risk from imported foreign diseases. The same applies everywhere.

Public Health England issued an urgent warning to doctors to watch for signs of Ebola after an infected man was allowed to travel through an international hub. They said the virus was “clearly not under control”, the Independent reported.

The Ebola outbreak has now spread to Nigeria, while in Sierra Leone a leading doctor, who risked his own life to treat dozens of Ebola patients, caught the disease and died earlier this week.

The measures taken by ASKY Airlines come in the wake of the death last week of a 40-year-old American man of Liberian descent, who had taken several flights on ASKY.

The deceased had travelled from his home in Minnesota to Africa to attend the funeral of his sister, who died from Ebola. He then caught the disease himself – yet was allowed to board several international flights on his homeward journey, despite vomiting and suffering from diarrhoea. He reached Nigeria and died there. Experts say he could have transmitted the disease to anyone who sat near him or who used the same toilet on the plane. Authorities are now trying to trace fellow passengers.

DFAT reports: 

“The outbreak of Ebola virus in West Africa continues to be of significant concern. The World Health Organization (WHO) initially identified the outbreak in forested areas of southeastern Guinea in March 2014. The number of cases in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia continue to climb making this the most serious recorded outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).

“There have been a significant number of confirmed cases in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. From more than 1201 confirmed cases across the three countries there have been more than 670 deaths. In addition, the Ministry of Health in Nigeria has reported their first case of EVD and subsequent death on 25 July 2014. The case was a Liberian national who travelled to Lagos, Nigeria via Tomé, Togo. Health screening is now being carried out and ‘disease isolation centres’ have been set up at international airports across Nigeria.

“The Ebola virus causes EVD in humans, with a fatality rate of up to 90%. The symptoms of EVD are severe and can include high fever, muscle pain and weakness, headache and sore throat, followed by vomiting, diarrhoea and internal and external bleeding. There is no known vaccine or cure for Ebola The virus can be transmitted to humans from wild animals or between humans through bodily fluids, including blood, faeces and sweat. Transmission can also occur through direct contact with the body of a deceased Ebola patient.

“Where possible, Australians should avoid travel to areas affected by Ebola virus. These areas are mentioned in relevant country travel advisories. Closely monitor the advice provided by local health authorities and the WHO. Australians in West Africa are advised to maintain strict standards of hygiene and avoid direct contact with patients with Ebola or unknown illnesses. Avoid contact with any objects that could have been contaminated with bodily fluids. Travellers should avoid contact with wild animals and should not eat or handle raw or undercooked animal products, such as blood and meat.”

DFAT has also advised Australian travellers that borders in the region may be closed at short notice to contain the outbreak.

“Travellers should seek local advice about border closures before travelling in the region.”

Written by : Peter Needham

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