When anyone hears this name they immediately associate it with death and tradegy. It is not surprising that on several occasions I have seen a child in surgery with a fever and they have been unusually fearful because they are frightened they have contracted Ebola.
We can reassure, act appropriately and educate our children in so many ways:-
* Remind our children that we live in a country that has clean running water and an excellent sewage system which saves countless lives especially from infections. Did we not see the adverts on the TV at Christmas asking us to contribute to a provision of a pump in a bush village which had no running water?
* Educate our children to wash their hands before meals and after using the toilet and put our hands to our mouths or turn away when we have cough?
* Make sure you are up to date with immunisation and seek advice when travelling for recommended immunisations and health care with the practise nurse or local travel clinic
* Encourage healthy living especially with regards diet and exercise.
* Appreciate and treasure our health service and not take it for granted that we have a service which is accessible, free and can offer a comprehensive range of treatments comparable to any country in the World.
Expectations are high – I can be sure that at least 50% of patients attending on Monday morning will have minor ailments which could be treated with Over The Counter remedies or just reassurance. If I sit in out of hours clinics the story is much the same!
Nevertheless, when I have had to admit or refer a patient with a serious illness for the most part I am pleased with the prompt response and standard of care. Moreover, if the outcomes are not satisfactory as a GP I have a voice to be able communicate dissatisfaction and facilitate change and as a patient there is also the same opportunity through PALS our Patient Liaison Service (details obtained at the surgery or on the website NHS choices)
More about Ebola
Nearly 40 years after Peter Piot was first dispatched to investigate a mysterious new virus.
He was 27 and still in training, he had one of the greatest opportunities an aspiring microbiologist could dream of: the chance to discover a new virus, investigate its mode of transmission and stop the outbreak. It all started when his laboratory at the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp received a thermos from what was then called Zaire. It contained the blood of a Flemish nun who had died of what was thought to be yellow fever.
From that sample, however, his lab isolated a new virus, confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta and subsequently called Ebola, after a river about 100km north of Yambuku, the centre of the epidemic. It turned out to be one of the most deadly viruses known.
In early September 1976, Mabalo Lokela, the headmaster of the local school, had died with a high fever, intractable diarrhoea and bleeding. His death sent a shockwave through the small mission community. Soon the hospital was full of patients with a similar illness and nearly all died within a week.
There have been several outbreaks since that time but the present outbreak is the worst.
How is it transmitted?
It is believed that the virus originates in fruit bats. It circulates in populations of wild animals including gorillas, fruit bats, monkeys, antelopes and even porcupines.
It is transmitted through contact with bodily fluids. Eating fruit collected from the forest floor, that an infected fruit bat had bitten, could spread it. So could contact with the blood of an infected animal that had been butchered for bush meat.
Monkeys, apes and antelopes are commonly eaten in the areas where the outbreak began. If someone were handling the raw meat and had an open cut on their hand, that could transmit the virus.
Once the virus is in human circulation, it becomes far harder to contain. Health care workers have been at particular risk because they have come into direct, close contact with victims.
Traditional burial ceremonies among many of the communities affected involve direct contact with the body of the dead, and this is believed to have been a major factor in the early spread of the virus, before public safety messages began to get through to people.
The virus can also be transmitted through sex. The WHO says that even men who have recovered from the virus can still transmit it through their semen for up to seven weeks after recovery.
Signs and Symtoms of Ebola
Abdominal (stomach) pain
Unexplained hemorrhage (bleeding or bruising)
Symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure to Ebola, but the average is 8 to 10 days.
Recovery from Ebola depends on good supportive clinical care and the patient’s immune response. People who recover from Ebola infection develop antibodies that last for at least 10 years.
The latest advise from NHS England is illustrated below:-