Ministry of Health alerts Malawians of Ebola outbreak in DRC: Offers extra precaution measures

Malawi’s Ministry of Health has warned the public to be on the guard following the outbreak of Ebola hemorrhagic fever that has been reported in nearby neighbouring country, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Mwansambo: Alert

In a press statement released by Chief of Health Services Dr. Charles Mwansambo on Wednesday May 17 2017, said so far DRC has registered 11 suspected cases with three deaths.

“The Ministry of Health in Malawi has already stepped up its surveillance mechanism to detect any positive occurrence of the disease in the country,” Dr. Mwansambo said in the statement.

“Among others, a national task force on Ebola has been reactivated forthwith and has already started meetings to strategise and monitor the situation. It has already started to take stock of all required logistics and replenish wherever necessary.

“[The task force] has resumed screening all people entering our borders for Ebola and requests everybody to cooperate with our port authorities and support their efforts [and to disseminate] messages to the general public on the disease.”

Mwansambo assured the general public not to panic because the Ministry is doing everything possible to prevent any Ebola outbreak that may arise from the visits to the affected area but also visitor from the affected region.

“We therefore urge all Malawians to take care of themselves and follow hygienic practices to keep Ebola out of our borders by observing the following:

  • Animals found dead should be handled with gloves and other appropriate protective clothing and buried promptly;
  • Minimise the direct or close contact with infected patients, particularly with their bodily fluids. Close physical contact with Ebola patients should be avoided;
  • Gloves and appropriate personal protective equipments should be worn when taking care of ill patients at home;
  • Regular hand washing is required after visiting sick relatives in hospital as well as after taking care of ill patients at home;
  • Communities suspecting Ebola infections should inform the closest health facility or the head of the community and that people who have died from Ebola should be promptly and safely buried.”

The Ministry also gave the public on the information about the deadly disease that it is a severe acute viral illness often characterised 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.

“Ebola is introduced into the human population through close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals. In Africa, infection has been documented through the handling of infected chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats, monkeys, forest antelope and porcupines found ill or dead or in rainforest.

“Ebola spreads in the community through human to human transmission, with infection resulting from direct (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with the blood, secretions, organs of 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.”

The ministry further warns that currently there is no treatment against the virus and that new drug therapies have shown promising results in laboratory studies and are being evaluated.

“Several vaccines are being tested but it could be several years before any are available. In the absence of effective treatment and a human vaccine, raising awareness of the risk factors for Ebola infection and the protective measures individuals can take is the only way to reduce human infection and death,” Dr. Mwansambo said in the press statement.

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