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Ebola plane scare in UK as disease jumps borders again

August 26, 2014 Aviation, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59Passengers on a British Airways flight from London to Aberdeen in Scotland had a tense time at the weekend when they were held on the aircraft for over two hours during an Ebola scare.

A 10-year-old African girl, described by Scotland’s Daily Record newspaper as of Nigerian descent, was violently sick aboard the BA1314 service. Particularly worrisome was that the girl had flown to Scotland from regions in Africa infected by Ebola fever, one of the world’s deadliest diseases, with up to 90% of cases resulting in death.

Ebola is spread between humans through direct contact with infected bloodily fluids.

Medical staff from Britain’s Environmental Health, along with specialist infectious diseases doctors, ordered the BA aircraft quarantined until the sick passenger could be safely removed.

One man, whose pregnant daughter was on the flight, told the paper the experience was stressful for passengers and staff. The girl was transferred to the infectious diseases unit at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, where further tests are being conducted. Ebola sufferer

Meanwhile, another African country, the Democratic Republic of Congo, has confirmed that an outbreak of haemorrhagic fever within its borders is Ebola.

Health Minister Felix Numbi said tests on two people had confirmed the disease has hit Equateur province, where 13 had already died, the BBC reported.

The Congo is in central Africa and the cases there are the first outside West Africa since the current outbreak began.

So far, 1427 people have died from the virus in  Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria. The the World Health Organisation (WHO) says the speed and extent of the outbreak is “unprecedented”. An estimated 2615 people in West Africa have been infected with Ebola since March.

There is no known cure or vaccine but some victims have recovered after being given an experimental drug, ZMapp. Unfortunately, supplies are now exhausted. A doctor in Liberia died yesterday despite receiving ZMapp treatment. Japan was reported this morning to have offered a different experimental anti-viral drug, called favipiravir and marketed as Avignan, as a possible treatment for the Ebola virus.

Also at the weekend, a British health worker suffering from Ebola in Sierra Leone was flown back to the UK on an RAF jet – the first confirmed case of a Briton contracting the virus during the current outbreak. He is currently receiving emergency treatment at the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead, north London.

Fruit bats, which some West Africans consider delicious, are considered to be the virus’s natural host, the BBC reports.

The spread of Ebola is now reported to be affecting tourism to Africa. Initial assurances that air travel is unlikely to spread the disease have given way to doubt. Air travel is how the disease reached Nigeria, when an infected passenger flew from Liberia to Lagos, Africa’s most populous city, and infected others there before dying.

Written by : Peter Needham

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