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EBOLA – What you need to know

by:  Health Hub | Empowering Lives

There is currently an Ebola Viral Disease (EVD) outbreak that has affected several West African Countries including Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leon and Guinea. The Ministry of Health, Kenya is closely monitoring the outbreak and has put in place measures to prevent introduction of the virus in the country. This fact sheet provides basic information on Ebola.

What is Ebola Virus Disease ?

Ebola Virus Disease is a serious and often fatal disease caused by Ebola virus.

What are the signs and symptoms of a person suffering from Ebola?

A person suffering from Ebola presents with sudden onset of high fever plus any of the following symptoms; headache, intense weakness, muscle pain and sore throat. This is often followed by vomiting, diarrhea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, bleeding through the body opening, i.e. eyes, nose, gums, ears and anus.

How is Ebola spread?

The disease is spread through:

1. Direct contact with body fluids like blood, saliva, vomits, stool, urine and secretion from wounds of a person suffering from Ebola.

2. Contact with cloths or bed linens from a patient with Ebola may also transmit it.

3. Infection may also occur handling of infected chimpanzees, gorillas, monkeys, bats and forest antelopes both dead or alive.

Who is at risk?

1. Anybody who comes into direct contact with body fluids such as blood, saliva, vomits, urine, and other secretions from an infected person. This may occur during care of the sick person at home or at health facility.

2. Persons involved in cleaning and dressing the body of a person who has died of Ebola.

3. Persons handling animals infected with Ebola virus such as chimpanzees, gorillas, forest antelopes, monkeys and bats.

4. Mourners who get into direct contact with the body of a person who has died of Ebola as part of burial rituals or ceremony.

How can Ebola be prevented?

1. Avoid direct contact with body fluids from any ill person or from any person suspected to be suffering from Ebola.

2. If you must handle a patient with Ebola, you should wear protective materials such as gloves.

3. Bodies of people who have died of Ebola must be handled by special trained people and buried immediately.

4. Incase you accidentally handle a person suspected to be infected with Ebola, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.

Is there treatment for Ebola?

Currently, there is no specific treatment for Ebola. Early diagnosis and supportive treatment such as re-hydration with fluids and blood transfusion can be of great help.

Is it safe to travel to West Africa?

It is advisable to limit travel to only essential trips. Maximum precautions should be taken to avoid infection with Ebola by avoiding contact with a person suffering from Ebola. Also avoid touching used needles or medical waste.

What should I do if I suspect I have Ebola or somebody I know has Ebola?

Anybody who falls ill and has recently traveled to West Africa or any other place with a confirmed outbreak of Ebola is advised to report to the nearest health facility immediately.

Key points to remember

1. Ebola is preventable

2. Avoid direct contact with any person suspected to be suffering from Ebola or any other unknown disease.

3. Wash hands with soap and water after contact with any sick person

4. Refer all suspected cases to the nearest health facility

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