The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is an international public health emergency that demands an extraordinary response, the World Health Organization declared Friday.
The Ministerio de Salud (Ministry of Health) guarantees to have the capacity to face the Ebola virus, the hospitals Mexíco and Calderón Guardia being the major medical centres.
In addition, Mary Ethel Trejos, responsible for Health Surveillance, said Costa Ricans should not to travel to African nations that are battling with the virus, such as Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and New Guinea.
Trejos added that a plan has been launched at the Juan Santamaría (San José) international airport to identify flights with possible connectioons to countries with cases of Ebola, and a questionnaire is being develiped and airport staff will be trained to interview people from those countries, to identify any suspicious cases.
The official said that in the event a traveller meets the conditions of risk or presents any symptoms, they will be isolated and quarantined for up to 18 days.
So far this year, nine people in Costa Rica have been in one of the African countries with Ebola patients.
[su_pullquote class=”H2″]Ebola outbreak: it’s not the virus but Africa that’s changed [/su_pullquote]The outbreak has killed at least 961 people as of August 6 and around 1,700 suspected cases. WHO’s director general Margaret Chan told reporters from Geneva, “its moving faster than we can control it.”
“The possible consequences of further international spread are particularly serious in view of the virulence of the virus,” the UN health agency said in a statement. The declaration shows WHO is taking the outbreak seriously, but more means needs to be done, said the aid group Doctors Without Borders — known by its French initials, MSF.
In the U.S., American Ebola victim Dr. Kent Brantly is on the mend. On Friday, the 33-year-old has released his first statement since arriving in Atlanta for treatment at Emory University Hospital last Saturday, saying, ‘I Am Growing Stronger Every Day’.
In Canada, a hospital in Ontario, has isolated a patient with flu-like symptoms after the person was revealed to have recently travelled from Nigeria – one of the Ebola-hit areas. The unnamed patient has been admitted to Brampton Civic Hospital, with a diagnosis yet to come.
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From The World Health Organization website:
Ebola virus disease (EVD) spreads through human-to-human transmission, with infection resulting from 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.
Men who have recovered from the disease can still transmit the virus through their semen for up to 7 weeks after recovery from illness.
EVD 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, diarrhea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding. Laboratory findings include low white blood cell and platelet counts and elevated liver enzymes.
People are infectious as long as their blood and secretions contain the virus. Ebola virus was isolated from semen 61 days after onset of illness in a man who was infected in a laboratory.
The incubation period, that is, the time interval from infection with the virus to onset of symptoms, is 2 to 21 days.
Other diseases that should be ruled out before a diagnosis of EVD can be made include: malaria, typhoid fever, shigellosis, cholera, leptospirosis, plague, rickettsiosis, relapsing fever, meningitis, hepatitis and other viral haemorrhagic fevers.
Ebola virus infections can be diagnosed definitively in a laboratory through several types of tests:
- antibody-capture enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA)
- antigen detection tests
- serum neutralization test
- reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assay
- electron microscopy
- virus isolation by cell culture.
Samples from patients are an extreme biohazard risk; testing should be conducted under maximum biological containment conditions.
Vaccine and treatment
No licensed vaccine for EVD is available. Several vaccines are being tested, but none are available for clinical use.
Severely ill patients require intensive supportive care. Patients are frequently dehydrated and require oral rehydration with solutions containing electrolytes or intravenous fluids.
No specific treatment is available. New drug therapies are being evaluated.