Sunday, October 12, 2014
Widespread Ebola Contagion Feared
The United States and Canada announced stepped-up airport screening measures Wednesday to look for passengers carrying Ebola, as the deadly virus killed a Liberian man in Texas and the worldwide toll neared 3,900.
The spillover of the virus – with the first diagnosis in United States and the first case of infection in Spain – has raised fears of contagion in the West.
The world’s largest outbreak of Ebola has killed 3,865 people out of 8,033 infected so far this year, mainly in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, according to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) latest count.
As this developed, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced the appointments of three crisis managers respectively for Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, where the Ebola epidemic is spreading and having disruptive effect.
An announcement issued by his spokesperson said Ban appointed Marcel Rudasingwa of Rwanda as Ebola crisis manager for Guinea, Peter Jan Graaff of the Netherlands as manager for Liberia, and Amadu Kamara of the United States as manager for Sierra Leone.
In their respective roles, the crisis managers will work with their host government along with key stakeholders in ensuring a rapid and effective international response to the Ebola crisis within their respective country. The appointments are part of the newly established United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER).
The WHO sought to contain concerns of a wider outbreak in Europe after a Spanish nurse was infected, with regional director Zsuzsanna Jakab saying sporadic cases in Europe were “unavoidable” but the risk of a full outbreak was “extremely low.”
Dr. German Ramirez of Madrid’s La Paz-Carlos III hospital said Spanish nurse Teresa Romero remembers she once touched her face with her glove after leaving the quarantine room where an Ebola victim was being treated.
“It appears we have found the origin” of Romero’s infection, Ramirez said, but he cautioned the investigation was not complete.
Romero was said to be in stable condition Wednesday.
Romero’s infection prompted the isolation of five persons and monitoring of dozens more.
Spain’s handling of the affair came into question after it emerged that the nurse fell ill on September 30 while on leave after treating the missionaries, but she wasn’t admitted to hospital until six days later.
The nurse had gone to her family doctor during this period but “hid the fact that she was a nurse that had been in direct contact with an Ebola patient,” said Javier Gonzalez, the director of the Madrid regional government health department.
Despite this infection in Spain, sophisticated health systems, legions of doctors and nurses, and preparedness plans will probably squash any big outbreaks of the lethal virus in Europe.
Extremely high vigilance is needed when caring for people with Ebola, so doctors say even small lapses in infection control can allow for the accidental spread of the virus to health staff.
In the Philippines, Ang Nars Partylist Rep. Leah Paquiz said the government should now take swift and intense efforts to prevent the entry of the dreaded disease in the country.
Rep. Paquiz said so far luck is on the side of Filipinos who were able to dodge various pandemics that have affected other countries, but warned that health care must not rely on good fortune alone.
In a media forum in Quezon City, Paquiz said government must now put in place fool-proof measure that would block the entry of persons carrying the deadly Ebola virus considering the Philippines is still unprepared to deal with the deadly virus.
In Washington, officials announced increased screening at five major airports, including in New York, Washington, Chicago, Atlanta, and New Jersey.
And Canadian health minister Rona Ambrose said passengers arriving from west African countries affected by the epidemic must go through tightened controls, though she didn’t specify where these would take place.
Meanwhile, two people were hospitalized in Los Angeles and Dallas for possible exposure to Ebola.
The Los Angeles case, concerning a patient who’d traveled to Liberia, turned out to be a false alarm.
In the Dallas case, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention chief Tom Frieden said, “there is someone who does not have either definite contact with Ebola or definite symptoms of Ebola who is being assessed.”
Ebola is transmitted by close contact with the bodily fluids of a person who is showing symptoms of infection such as fever, aches, vomiting and diarrhea, or who has recently died of the hemorrhagic virus, experts say.
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