by Dr. Freeman Osonuga
Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) which is also known as Ebola Haemorrhagic Fever, is a deadly viral disease caused by Ebola Viruses. It was in the year 1976 that Ebola first appeared in two outbreaks, one in a village near the Ebola River in the Democratic Republic of Congo (where it took its name from) and the other in a remote area of Sudan.
The symptoms and signs of Ebola begin to show after two (2) to twenty one (21) days of being infected with the virus. In the early stage, EVD is characterised by fever, sore throat, muscle pain and headaches and then followed by vomiting, diarrhoea and the accompanying deranged liver and kidney functions. Bleeding, both internally and externally occurs at the late stage of the disease. Ebola virus disease infections can only be confirmed through laboratory testing.
A person who has the EVD can infect other people when they begin to show signs and symptoms of the disease but before this period they are not contagious. It is during such times as these that simple hygiene habits of regular handing washing can be life-saving.
Ebola has a high mortality rate of about twenty five (25) to ninety (90) percent. As of September 2014, the average risk of death among those infected with the virus is 50 percent. The highest risk of death from EVD was 90 percent in the 2002–2003 Republic of the Congo outbreak.
The current outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease in West Africa is the largest since the virus was first discovered in 1976 with countries such are Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia being the worst affected. As of 10 December 2014, there has been 18,232 suspected cases and 6,990 deaths had been reported.
Despite the dread that’s usually associated with Ebola, the unsaid silent truth is that Ebola Virus Disease can be survived though with early presentation at the treatment centres and adequate supportive care as death from EVD usually occur from the shock and electrolyte imbalance which accompanies the fluid and blood loss.
Though Ebola kills within three (3) weeks of manifesting signs and symptoms, the early presentation has been a major notable factor among all the survivors.
Presently, EVD doesn’t have a definitive treatment but prompt and adequate supportive care which includes but not limited to replacement of lost fluids and electrolytes and treatments of any other underlining medical conditions has proved magical in the treatment of Ebola patients.
Many have survived an Ebola Virus Disease and many more will. Idris Bangura is one of such people.
Idris is a 29years old portal who contacted EVD in the Regional Government Hospital in Makama, Northern Region of Sierra Leone where he had a physical contact with an Ebola positive patient, Halassan Kamara (now a survivor too), who was admitted at the hospital.
One thing Idris did right after his exposure to the EVD patient was to report immediately to his supervisor at the hospital. He was then quarantined and was later to test positive to the virus.
Idris is one of the many Ebola survivors who works at the Magbenteh Ebola Treatment Centre in Makeni, Bomballi District, Sierra Leone which is being operated by the African Union team of dedicated medical experts under the Africa Union Support to Ebola Outbreak in West Africa (ASEOWA) framework. The others include Kanko, Zainab, Mariatu, Isaac, Aminat, Solomon, and Adamasay who are working in various departments of the treatment centre.
Magbenteh Ebola Treatment Centre is a 100-bed capacity centre which became operational on the 24th November, 2014 and by Thursday 11th December, 2014 it had produced 24 Ebola survivors giving an early unprecedented success to the efforts of the African Union Commission through an massive deployment of both human and material resources in fighting the deadly scourge on the continent.
The stories of Ebola survivors are truly the beckons of hope to those who live and work in countries like Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia where the fear of the disease is the beginning of wisdom. Ebola is a killer disease but it can be prevented and when contacted, with early presentation at the treatment centres, Ebola can be overcomed.
World Health Organisation
African Union Commission: www.au.int
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