The federal government yesterday dispelled fear about the Ebola virus, saying there is no outbreak of the infection in Nigeria.
The virus is known to cause Ebola virus disease (EVD) in humans, with a case fatality rate of up to 90 per cent. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Ebola is introduced into the human population through close contact with blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals.
“In Africa, infection has been documented through the handling of infected chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats, monkeys, forest antelopes and porcupines found ill or dead or in the rainforest.”
Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, said in Abuja yesterday that speculations on purported outbreak of Ebola virus disease in Nigeria and the alleged death of one affected person in Nasarawa State is untrue.
“The report is not true and should be discountenanced. The said case is yet to be diagnosed and confirmed as Ebola virus disease,” Special Assistant on Media and Communication to the Minister of Health, Dan Nwomeh, said in a statement in Abuja.
He stressed: “The general public should please note that the authority to confirm the outbreak of disease epidemics rests with the minister of health. Also, the institution of government that is mandated to investigate the outbreak of diseases and advise the minister is the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
“From the information available to the NCDC and the minister at the moment, there is no outbreak of Ebola virus disease in Nigeria.
The Ebola virus is not the only cause of hemorrhagic fever. All suspected cases of Viral Haemorrhagic Fever are subjected to laboratory analyses and confirmation.”
The federal ministry of health had earlier issued a health alert, asking members of the public to take steps to avoid being infected by the deadly virus currently ravaging neighbouring Sudan, Guinea and Congo.
Although the ministry affirmed that it has sufficient expertise to track spread of the viral disease, it however warned members of the public to avoid destinations where the diseases are prone.
A statement from the federal ministry of health, signed March 27, 2014 by Nwomeh, said that all health institutions in the country have been put on red alert over a possible outbreak of the deadly air-borne disease.
“The federal ministry of health urges the general public to take measures to avert the outbreak or spread of the disease. Persons with high fever, headache, severe abdominal pain, diarrhea and bleeding and especially with a history of travel to Guinea, Sierra Leone or Liberia are urged to report to the health authorities. Though the health institutions have been put on red alert for Ebola here in Nigeria, the WHO does not recommend any travel or trade restrictions to Guinea in respect of this outbreak.
“Nigeria has the capacity to diagnose the disease if it appears in our country. The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) is currently studying the outbreak trends and has mobilised its rapid response teams and developed a detailed response plan that includes a comprehensive health education/health promotion to sensitise Nigerians, enhanced surveillance to detect and treat the disease, while mobilising its treatment/isolation centres. An alert has been issued to all state commissioners of health to mobilise against the disease,” the statement said.
It further noted that the federal ministry of health is currently working closely with West African Health Organisation (WAHO) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) on the development, in addition to being ready to deploy experts to Guinea on request by the affected country to strengthen its response capacity.