Nigerian doctor contracts Ebola after treating victim

By IAfrica
In Nigeria
Aug 4th, 2014
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Test results on eight others expected

Death toll now 887

World Bank pledges $200m

A Nigerian has tested positive to the deadly Ebola virus, the government announced yesterday.

A woman  doctor – one of the eight who had “primary” contact with Liberian-American Patrick Sawyer who died of the virus in Lagos on July 25 – is down with the virus, a test has confirmed.

Sawyer, who flew into Lagos on July 20 to attend an international conference in Calabar, Cross River State, took ill aboard a ASKY Airline flight from Lome, Togo and was taken to the First Foundation Hospital, Obalende, Lagos Island where he was admitted. He died five days later. Tests confirmed that he was struck by Ebola, which is ravaging his country Liberia, neighbouring Sierra Leone and Guinea.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said yesterday that the death toll from the virus now stands at 887.

Apart from the doctor, three others have been tested for this virus, according to Health Minister Prof. Chukwu Onyebuchi, who spoke in Abuja.

“Three others who participated in that treatment who are currently symptomatic have had their samples taken and, hopefully, by the end of today we should have the results of their own test,” Chukwu said.

The emergence of a second case raises serious concerns about the infection control practices that were used while Sawyer was in Nigeria. It raises the specter that more cases could emerge. It can take up to 21 days after exposure to the virus for symptoms to appear. They include fever, sore throat, muscle pains and headache. Often more debilitating symptoms appear shortly thereafter.

Nigeria is the fourth country to report Ebola cases and at least 728 other people have died in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

The minister said 70 people who had contact with  the Liberian are under surveillance. Eight are already under quarantine.

The minister added: “Earlier last week, two people with the symptoms were tested and they were negative but there were others whose samples have been taken and among them, the second case is one of them and it has been proven to be Ebola Virus Disease.

“By the weekend, there were others who also participated in attending to that particular patient and these people who did not have symptoms at the time we addressed you, developed symptoms over the weekend and as at today, we have the test of those health personnel who have now become Ebola Positive and it is being treated as such.

“As I speak, three others who participated in that treatment who are currently symptomatic had their samples taken and hopefully by the end of today (yesterday), we will have the result of their own test.

“So, two cases so far. One is dead and one is alive and he is being managed as a case of Ebola Virus Disease. The other issue now is that by the end of today, eight of those who have had contacts under quarantine. So far, we have 70 persons on surveillance. By this afternoon, we should have the result of those under quarantine and anybody that becomes symptomatic is immediately quarantined. They are using the isolation ward as provided by the Lagos State government for the purpose of treating the disease.”

The minister said the 70 do not include the patient who died. Once you have fever and you had contact, we quarantine you. It is when we quarantine you that we will take samples to examine whether it is Ebola Virus Disease or notm,” he said.

Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Dr Jide Idris, at a joint briefing by the Federal Government and the Lagos State government at the central Public Health Laboratory Services, Yaba, confirmed that the doctor  who showed the symptoms, is a woman.

He dismissed the rumour that two doctors had died as a result of their contact with the late Sawyer.

The Ebola-positive doctor is being managed by a combined team of local and international experts, he explained.

Idris said the government would not reveal the identity of the doctor because it is “unethical” to do so.

The commissioner urged to the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) to suspend its strike, which as entered 35 days yesterday.

The Project Director, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Prof Abdulsalami Nasidi, and top officials of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Red Cross Society attended the briefing.

The WHO said the 887 death toll is the worst record of outbreak of Ebola.

That is an increase of 158 since the global health body released figures on July 31.

WHO said in a statement yesterday that there were more than 1,600 cases of Ebola since the disease emerged in Guinea earlier this year.

According to WHO, there were 358 deaths in Guinea, 255 deaths in Liberia, 273 deaths in Sierra Leone and one in Nigeria

The United States plans to send 50 health experts to West Africa to help contain the outbreak.

“This is the biggest and most complex Ebola outbreak in history,” Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in a statement.

“It will take many months, and it won’t be easy, but Ebola can be stopped. We know what needs to be done. CDC is surging our response, sending 50 additional disease control experts to the region in the next 30 days.”

Frieden said the 50 experts from the CDC would work to combat the outbreak and help implement stronger systems to fight the disease.

The Ebola virus causes viral hemorrhagic fever, which refers to a group of viruses that affect multiple organ systems in the body and are often accompanied by bleeding.

Early symptoms include sudden onset of fever, weakness, muscle pain, headaches and a sore throat. They later progress to vomiting, diarrhea, impaired kidney and liver function — and sometimes internal and external bleeding.

Though the U.S. had not treated an Ebola patient until last week, the CDC has spearheaded efforts to prepare for the deadly virus. It helped create an isolation unit at Emory University Hospital, which is being used to treat American doctor Kent Brantly, who contracted Ebola in Liberia and was evacuated to the facility in Atlanta over the weekend. A second American patient, Nancy Writebol, is being evacuated from Liberia to the same isolation unit. She is scheduled to arrive today.

Emory is one of four U.S. institutions capable of providing such treatment.

But in the nations hardest-hit and not as prepared, the reality is grim. Even in the best-case scenario, it could take three to six months to stem the epidemic in West Africa, Frieden said.

Ebola spreads through contact with organs and bodily fluids such as blood, saliva, urine and other secretions of infected people.

It has no cure, and the most common approach is to support organ functions and keep up bodily fluids such as blood and water long enough for the body to fight off the infection.

In Sierra Leone, where government officials have asked citizens to stay away from work, the military has deployed at least 750 medical officials to 13 locations, military spokesman Col. Michael Samura said.

Health officials are screening incoming and outgoing passengers at the country’s main international airport with a device that takes people’s temperature from their eyes at a distance.

Anyone showing signs of fever is taken away to have their blood tested for Ebola.

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