The Federal Ministry of Health on Thursday in Abuja said it has intensified surveillance to prevent the transmission of the ebola disease across the country.
The ministry’s Chief Consultant Epidemiologist, Dr Akin Oyemakinde, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the current outbreak of the disease in Guinea necessitated the measures taken.
He explained that the ebola haemorrhagic fever (EHF) is a viral-like lassa fever, which spreads through close personal contact with people who are infected and kills very fast.
“The symptoms include internal and external bleeding, diarrhoea and vomiting,’’ the epidemiologist said.
Oyemakinde said the country’s port authorities’ health care officers have been sensitised to identify individuals suspected of being with the disease’s symptoms, and notify the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.
“There is no cure for the disease and no vaccine, and anybody with the disease will only get supportive therapy. Therefore preventing the disease from coming into Nigeria is paramount.
“Guinea is close to us, and there is a report that about 60 people died from the disease. Now, every country is at alert because the disease is spreading to neighbouring countries.
“We have sent an alert to all State Commissioners for Health, with the attention of the state epidemiologists, to sensitise the public and the health workers,’’ he said.
NAN reports that a recent UNICEF report says the haemorrhagic fever has spread quickly from southern Guinea, hundreds of kilometres away.
A media report also stated that Sierra Leone’s Health Ministry said it was investigating two suspected cases of ebola.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) said the infection had emerged through the handling of infected chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats, monkeys, forest antelopes and porcupines.
These were those found dead or ill in the rain forest.
“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 through infected semen can occur up to seven weeks after clinical recovery,’’ it said.