Home Health & Food Ebola outbreak in Congo not a threat to Nigeria —Physician

Ebola outbreak in Congo not a threat to Nigeria —Physician

by James Davies

Alfred Olufemi

A public health expert, Dr. Abimbola Adesanya, says Nigerians should not be worried that the country might be at risk of Ebola virus disease considering its recent outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Dr. Adesanya, who spoke with PUNCH HealthWise on Wednesday, stated that the Nigerian government has put up some measures to prevent the importation of the condition after the disease was imported into the country in 2014. 

“For Nigerians, there’s no need to fear because there have been pockets of outbreaks in Congo even after our own last exposure to Ebola. 

“In Nigeria, you know we have put up so many important safety measures at our borders, both air, land… to prevent anybody with health issues crossing our borders,” she said.

In July 2014, Nigeria recorded its first Ebola case in a Liberian-American, Patrick Sawyer, who flew from Liberia to Lagos.

Sawyer, who later died of the disease, was said to have infected health workers who came across him including Ameyo Adadevoh, the doctor who attended to him. 

However, in September 2014, the Nigerian government declared the country Ebola-free.

Dr. Adesanya explained that DR Congo, which recorded an Ebola case over the weekend, has had multiple cases after Nigeria.

“This is not even the first outbreak since Sawyer came to Nigeria in Congo. They’ve had pockets of outbreaks since 2015.” 

She, however, noted that the country should not drop the ball in terms of prevention and safety measures.

“That doesn’t mean we should not take precautions as individuals. I’m sure that once this kind of outbreak is heard of in neighbouring countries, we improve our index of suspicions and tighten our borders and ensure that travellers are not at risk.”

PUNCH Healthwise had earlier reported how the World Health Organisation’s Africa office has declared an outbreak of Ebola after a 31-year-old man has been diagnosed with the virus disease in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The case was confirmed in Mbandaka, a city in the north-western Equateur Province. 

According to WHO, the latest discovery makes it the third outbreak in the province since 2018.

In addition to the government’s efforts, WHO said its experts are supporting the national authorities to “ramp up key outbreak response areas including testing, contact tracing, infection prevention and control, treatment as well as working with communities to support the public health measures to prevent infections.”

Also, 200 hundred doses of vaccines have been sent to Mbandaka and administered, the agency announced on Wednesday. 

Ebola virus disease, formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, is a rare but severe illness transmitted to people from wild animals. 

It spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission and its fatality rates have varied from 25% to 90% in the past.

While it first broke in 1976, West Africa experienced the largest Ebola outbreak between 2014 and 2016.

Based on the latest record, DR Congo, a Central African nation, is experiencing its fourteenth Ebola outbreak since 1976.

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