The Federal Government on Wednesday admitted that Nigeria was in danger of the deadly Ebola Virus from fleeing immigrants from the Democratic Republic of Congo, pouring into Chad and Cameroun, who are Nigeria’s neighbours.
The Minister of Heath, Prof. Onyeabuchi Chukwu, told State House correspondents after the one hour Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, presided over by President Goodluck Jonathan, that government has also decided to change the radio and television jingles and newspaper advertisements to include the current realities as far as the Ebola fever of concern And would adopt the method used to fight the polio virus which include working with religious bodies, communities, traditional rulers and the media to educate Nigerians on the virus.
FOR warned that there was no vaccines for both Ebola and Lassa fever, it urged Nigerians to take precautions which include seeing the doctor immediately one is feverish as the three day after medication theory cannot apply as Ebola kills very fast, constant washing of hands after each activity, avoid eating fruits without washing as well as stop eating fruits that have been eaten by bats as there may have been infected by the Ebola virus.
The deadly Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) has spread across West Africa with 137 cases and 86 deaths recorded since January this year.
“Yes Ebola is a real threat. It is true that as at today we have not been able to report a single case of Ebola. But mind you Ebola is not the only threat, it is an added threat because West Africa never had a single case of Ebola until this year, it was more in Central Africa. But now we have added it to the ones that are even more native to West Africa which is Lassa fever. Some of these viruses belong to a group that causes similar diseases like yellow fever which for 18 years now we have not had a single case, but 18 years ago it devastated Nigeria. It is also the cause of what is called homoragic fever. Then lassa fever which you know has been ongoing, there are even parts of Nigeria which is endemic like the northern part of Edo State, they record a case every week and is very deadly. We recently diagnosed a case of denge fever, there all caused homoragic fever. There is one called mabuck fever, it has not yet been dictated in Nigeria.
“Like you pointed out Ebola has been moving eastward towards Nigeria as well and we are already facing danger from Central African Republic, even with what is happening in Congo, people are also migrating to Chad and Chad, Cameroon are also in our borders.
“So Nigeria is in danger but we have recently said that in addition to the leaflets that we are producing for lessa and other homoragic fever, we will now emphasis Ebola fever. As I speak to you, we have already approved for jingles to be produced in various languages produced by the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control to be aired on Radio, TV and newspaper adverts. Then we are working with all groups, just like we are doing for polio, religious bodies, communities, traditional rulers and the media which is most important in this venture you will help us to play your role by educating Nigerians.
“There is no vaccines so is not a question of government has not produced vaccines for Ebola or Lassa fever. If there was vaccines government will certainly buy a stock and keep and there is no specific treatment. We know what spreads infection for lassa is a special type of rat in Nigeria, the ones for Ebola are bats that even some Nigerians see as bush meat. And bats eat fruits as well and so sometimes if you go and pluck fruits that they have contaminated with the virus someone can get infected.
“So all the things we said still apply, personal hygiene make sure that after every ceremony you wash your hands. The first thing I do after returning from work is to wash my hands before torching my children or anybody, is very important. The second thing is that before you eat wash your hands again, the fruits must be washed, those things we eat from must be washed. When people have fever, we will soon review our adverts for things like anti-malaria because they still say if you have fever take this for three days if you don’t improve go and see your doctor but we are changing all that because now if you wait three days for Ebola you are dead.
“So all of them will continue and will produce a specific one for Ebola”, he said.