Monday, March 23, 2015

EVD: One year since Ebola was confirmed in Guinea...

A year ago today the Ministry of Health of Guinea notified WHO of a rapidly evolving outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in forested areas of south-eastern Guinea. As of 22 March 2014, a total of 49 cases including 29 deaths had been reported. Now, a year later, the numbers are  higher than anyone could have ever dreamed of.

In Sierra Leone alone we have had over 8,000 confirmed cases of which more than 3000 people have died. In the region, over 10,000 people have died due to Ebola and that is only counting the Ebola deaths. So many more people have died of other illnesses, in part due to the unavailability of health care services and fear of patients to go to health facilities for medical care. There is a real need for all facilities to resume regular services safely.

On Friday we had 0 new cases in Sierra Leone. Today we had 2. The numbers are definitely much lower than they were in November and December when we were averaging anything from 50-70 cases per day. However, although we have now reached the tail end, this phase of the outbreak may yet drag on for some time. The fewer cases recorded, the more chance that people become complacent and revert back to their traditional practices, such as following the traditional burial rites. 

Last week Liberia recorded its first case in more than two weeks of not recording any. In Guinea and Sierra Leone there are still pockets of high transmission. Even worse, in some incidences, is cases that arise without any known contacts. This is a cause of concern, as it means there are more cases out there that no one is aware of. 

Of the 13 districts in Sierra Leone, 4 of them are well past the 42 days without any new cases and 3 districts have gone 21 days without any new cases. However, the remaining 6 districts have all had cases within the last 0-8 days. There is still a lot of work to be done in the area of contact tracing and early case identification. For as long as there is one case in the sub-region, there is a chance that the the epidemic can ignite.

In the Children's Hospital our last positive case of Ebola was 12 days ago. However, staff must remain vigilant. They need to keep screening patients and isolating any children who meet the case definition. One Ebola case that ends up on the general wards in the hospital by mistake could have disastrous effects. We need to keep the safety of staff in mind and be on the alert for any suspect cases. Our plan is to do more training soon on effective screening and safe provision of care during an outbreak. 

Hoping to see zero cases for more than 42 days consecutively throughout the region someday this year...


TylerA2016 said...

Now that the final patient has been discharged and the country is free of the ebola virus, what do you beleive is the next issue they will largely focus on?

Alex Neil said...

Ebola Virus is one of a group of viruses that cause a hemorrhagic fever syndrome. Symptoms of Ebola virus infection are similar to those produced by other hemorrhagic fever viruses and include fever, fatigue, malaise, reddened eyes, weakness, joint pain, muscle pain, headache, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Patients experience a loss of appetite and often stomach pains. Some patients experience sore throat, rash, cough, hiccups, chest pain, breathing problems, and difficulty swallowing.

~ Act Justly. Love Mercy. Walk Humbly. micah 6:8 ~