The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the spread of Ebola in West Africa an international health emergency. WHO officials said a coordinated international response is essential to stop and reverse the spread of the virus. The announcement came after experts convened a two-day emergency meeting in Geneva. So far, more than 930 people have died from Ebola in West Africa this year.
The Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment said Friday that it wishes to advise Vincentians that measures are in place to detect and manage persons infected with the Ebola virus and to prevent its spread should it arrive on the nation’s shores. A heightened surveillance system is in place and public health authorities are working in a coordinated manner and will continue to monitor and keep Vincentians up to date with recent developments.
The World Health Organization advises that there should be no general ban on international travel or trade. States should provide travelers to Ebola affected and at-risk areas with relevant information on risks, measures to minimize those risks, and advice for managing a potential exposure, and States should be prepared to detect, investigate and manage Ebola cases.
Ebola Viral Disease is a severe acute viral illness often characterized by the sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding. The incubation period, that is, the time interval from infection with the virus to onset of symptoms, is 2 to 21 days.
Ebola is spread through direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes), with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people, and indirect contact with environments contaminated with such fluids. Burial ceremonies in which mourners have direct contact with the body of the deceased person can also play a role in the transmission of Ebola. Men who have recovered from the disease can still transmit the virus through their semen for up to 7 weeks after recovery from illness.
The Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment urges Vincentians to practice proper personal and communal hygiene and wishes to assure the public that they will be kept up to date with all developments concerning this disease.