Travel Alert – Sierra Leone, Ebola…

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Drum Cussac has issued this latest warning for U.S. Citizens traveling to the country of Sierra Leone.  This information is available to GeoBlue plan members from the GeoBlue website daily…

Additional Ebola Cases Reported in Eastern Sierra Leone as Health Officials Move to Contain Growing Epidemic

Category: Health and Medical

Severity: 3 (Moderate)

Source: Drum Cussac

05/30/2014 (Sierra Leone) – According to press accounts on Thursday, 29 May, at least one person died at the Kenema General Hospital after contracting the deadly Ebola virus in eastern Sierra Leone, raising the death toll to two confirmed fatalities. Local media outlets allege that a third patient succumbed to the disease in the eastern Kailahun Prefecture while another two suspicious deaths were recorded, but health officials have yet to confirm the reported information. According to World Health Organisation (WHO), another seven confirmed cases and nine suspected are being treated in eastern Sierra Leone. All cases have reportedly been detected in the Koindu district of the Kailahun Prefecture over the past two weeks. Authorities have also expressed concerns over reports that the families of at least four patients had forcibly removed them from isolation wards at local clinics and prevented them from being transferred to Kenema.

Health officials have warned that the Kenema and Kailahun zones are at high risk of further infections. Residents from border villages are known to make frequent visits to neighbouring Guinean towns, and authorities suspect that this is how the potentially deadly virus has entered Sierra Leone. The confirmed cases come despite government-led efforts to raise public awareness and improve the response capabilities of the country’s weak public health infrastructure. Authorities were reported to have trained some 360 health workers to handle Ebola cases, set up isolation wards in local hospitals near the Guinean border as well as sent test kits and personal protective equipment to eastern Sierra Leone. Despite these measures, local leaders have complained that Sierra Leone had been too lenient in their response to the outbreak in neighbouring Guinea and failed to implement adequate measures to close off their shared border. Amid the growing number of cases, authorities have indicated that they were shifting from prevention to epidemic response, seeking assistance from relevant aid agencies and international bodies.

Ebola has the potential to kill up to 90 per cent of those infected and there is no vaccine or cure. Fruit bats, porcupines, chimpanzees and forest antelope are known to carry the virus. The incubation period can last from two days to three weeks, allowing time for an infected person to travel and pass Ebola to uninfected populations

Those in Sierra Leone are advised to reconsider all non-essential travel to the Kailahun area until further notice. Frequent hand-washing, wearing protective clothing, abstaining from bush meat and avoiding travel to villages known to have had infections, especially in Kailahun, can help to minimise the risk of exposure. Ebola spreads from one person to another by direct contact with infected blood, bodily fluids or organs. A person also can catch the virus by touching contaminated surfaces of needles. Those experiencing early symptoms of Ebola, including fever, headache, joint pain, chills, and sore throat should consult a physician immediately. As the disease gets worse, people may develop bleeding inside and out of the body.

Copyright © 2014 Drum Cussac

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