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Outbreak of deadly Ebola virus alarms African tourism

March 25, 2014 Destination Global, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59An outbreak of one of the world’s most dreaded contagious diseases, with a death rate of up to 90%, has been confirmed in the African state of Guinea.

Health officials are trying to quell panic as they dispatch specialised medical equipment, impose restrictions on funerals and seek to stop the lethal Ebola haemorrhagic fever from spreading.

Of 59 people killed by a mysterious illness in south-eastern Guinea since early February, 29 deaths have now been confirmed as resulting from Ebola haemorrhagic fever, international medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said. The horrendous disease has no cure.

The virus has not been recorded in the West African state before, ABC News noted. While the outbreak is confined to remote regions, the mention of Ebola is enough to deter many would-be visitors. The disease is nightmarish and most tourists avoid any proximity to it – shunning it like the plague.

United Nations health officials are concerned that the disease may spread to Sierra Leone after cases showing similar symptoms, including diarrhoea, vomiting and bleeding, were reported there.

According to the ABC, at least five of the dead in Guinea were medical officials, including the head of the regional hospital in Macenta, at the heart of the crisis, 800 kilometres from Guinea’s capital Conakry. TravelManagers

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), key facts about Ebola include:

  • The Ebola virus causes severe viral haemorrhagic fever (VHF) outbreaks in humans.
  • Viral haemorrhagic fever outbreaks have a case fatality rate of up to 90%.
  • Ebola haemorrhagic fever outbreaks occur primarily in remote villages in Central and West Africa, near tropical rainforests.
  • The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission.
  • Fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family are considered to be the natural host of the Ebola virus.
  • There is no treatment or vaccine available for either people or animals. 

The WHO reports:

“The Ebola virus can cause severe viral haemorrhagic fever (VHF) outbreaks in humans with a case fatality rate of up to 90%. Ebola first appeared in 1976 in two simultaneous outbreaks, in Nzara, Sudan, and in Yambuku, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The latter was in a village situated near the Ebola River, from which the disease takes its name.

“The Ebola virus is comprised of five distinct species: Bundibugyo, Ivory Coast, Reston, Sudan and Zaire.

“Bundibugyo, Sudan and Zaire species have been associated with large Ebola haemorrhagic fever (EHF) outbreaks in Africa, while the Ivory Coast and Reston species have not. EHF is a febrile haemorrhagic illness which causes death in 25-90% of all cases. The Ebola Reston species, found in the Philippines, can infect humans, but no illness or death in humans has been reported to date.

Transmission

“Ebola is introduced into the human population through close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals. In Africa, infection has been documented through the handling of infected chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats, monkeys, forest antelope and porcupines found dead or ill in the rainforest.

“Later Ebola spreads in the community through human-to-human transmission, resulting from close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people. Burial ceremonies where mourners have direct contact with the body of the deceased person can also play a role in the transmission of Ebola. Transmission via infected semen can occur up to seven weeks after clinical recovery.

“Health-care workers have frequently been infected while treating Ebola patients. This has occurred through close contact without the use of correct infection control precautions and adequate barrier nursing procedures. For example, health-care workers not wearing gloves and/or masks and/or goggles may be exposed to direct contact with infected patients’ blood and are at risk.

“Among workers in contact with monkeys or pigs infected with Ebola Reston, several human infections have been documented and were clinically asymptomatic. Thus, the Ebola Reston virus appears to be less capable of causing disease in humans than the other Ebola species.

Written by : Peter Needham

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