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Ebola Virus Is Real, Rinse Your Fruits Thoroughly

Ebola Virus Is Real, Rinse Your Fruits Thoroughly

This warning is not to cause unnecessary panic or scare, it is simply a heads up for every Nigerian to take precautions, so as to reduce their risk of contracting the Ebola virus which is spread by fruit bats.

Last week, we reported that the deadly Ebola virus had reached some parts of West Africa, including Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, killing over 101 persons in its wake.

Another news of a suspected case of the contagious disease in Ghana, which broke on Monday and is being investigated at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi, has heightened fear that the lethal virus is spreading like wildfire in the region.

Nigerians were particularly worried, considering the fact that Ghana is a neighbouring country and that many travellers move in and out of the two countries on a daily basis.

But thankfully, the Ghanaian government has confirmed that the case is not Ebola but fever.

Don’t heave a sigh of relief yet, as the Federal Government has admitted that Nigeria could be in danger with the rate at which the Ebola virus has been moving eastward towards the country.

The Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, notes that even though no case has been discovered in Nigeria yet, the virus poses a threat to Nigerians due to the country’s proximity to affected countries.

He says, “Ebola has been moving eastward towards Nigeria. We are already facing danger from the Central African Republic, even with what is happening in Congo. People are also migrating to Chad and Cameroon, both of which are near our borders.”

For many who do not know, the World Health Organisation defines the Ebola Virus Disease — also known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever — as one of the most virulent viral diseases known to humankind.

The disease has no cure or vaccine and kills up to 90 per cent of its victims within a few hours of its incubation in the body system.

The World Health Organisation describes the recent outbreak as the most challenging so far due to the low level of awareness and poor access to quick treatment in affected countries.

Though there is no obvious cure, experts say it can be prevented if one adheres to stringent personal and environment hygiene.

One of them is to avoid eating fruits without cleaning them appropriately this period. According to the health minister, Ebola can be contracted by eating fruit bats or eating fruits that have been infected by bats.

“It has been proved that fruit bats are the host for the virus. So, we are warning that people should stay off eating fruit bats or dead animals that may have been infected this period.

“If you eat fruits that have come in contact with these bats, you may get infected. Those who handle or eat bush meat, especially in our rural areas, must also be careful, as they could be at risk. Monkeys and apes could be hosts for the Ebola virus.”

Also, a nutritionist, Dr. Yomi Agaja, says this is not to say that Nigerians should stay off fruits, but they must be cleaned, properly washed or disinfected in some cases to make sure that some bacteria or viruses that may be in such fruits are denatured.

He states, “Ebola is transferred from fruit bats to humans or fruits. It is usually not obvious when a fruit is infected. But you can take precautions. Don’t buy any fruit that looks infected from the market. When you want to prepare it, wash the outer layers. After that, you can disinfect it with vinegar.

“Also, try not to buy fruits from the roadside; they will definitely not take the same precautions that you would if you were to prepare it yourself.”

The minister warns against self medication, especially in suspected cases of fever, as the symptoms of Ebola mimic that of malaria fever — a very common infection in the country.

“Do not to wait for three days as customary of malaria fever before seeking medical attention. We will review the adverts for anti-malarials because they still say if you have fever, take this drug for three days; and if you don’t improve, go and see your doctor. But we are changing all that because now, if you wait three days and it is Ebola, you are dead,” Chukwu warns.

Another challenge, according to the experts, is that people experiencing the symptoms of this deadly disease are usually afraid to go to the hospital for the fear of being quarantined during treatment; or in this clime, for fear of being stigmatised.

Though the disease has no cure or vaccine, and one may die with or without treatment, many persons who have been infected with the virus in the past have survived it.

Agaja says, “The explanation is that there is something in the genes of those who survived the infection that may have compelled the immune system to fight the infection naturally.”

That you have been experiencing fever, muscle pain and sore throat, or diarrhoea — the initial symptoms — does not mean you have contracted the Ebola virus.

However, going to the nearest health facility as soon as you can, will definitely save your life whether it is or it is not the Ebola infection.

For instance, the first suspected case of the lethal infection in the country turned out to be dengue fever, another infection that can be treated if detected early, but deadly when it is not managed well.

Source: Punch

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