Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Nigeria & Ebola

On July 20, 2014, a Liberian-American man with Ebola flew into the Lagos, Nigeria airport, collapsed and was rushed to a hospital. He was incredibly infectious at that point, but did not let anyone know that he had been exposed to Ebola in Liberia. About 10-11 Nigerians contracted Ebola from their direct contact with him. At this point about 5 have died and about 5 have survived. Patrick Sawyer died in Lagos on July 25.

Nigeria is now reporting just one confirmed case of Ebola although more than 100 people (secondary contacts) are currently under a 21-day surveillance. Nigeria has really taken the issue of Ebola seriously.

Well, we just have to take a look at Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone and know that we don't want to go down that road. From my reading on the internet, it appears that Patient Zero died in early Dec 2013 in Guinea. Then three more members of that family died over the next two months. Various health workers then died, and people who attended the burials unknowingly carried the virus to their areas. Patient Zero's location in Guinea was very close to the Liberian and Sierra Leonean borders and the virus quickly spread to those countries. However, it wasn't until March 2014 that the dots were connected and Ebola was named as the culprit. That gave the virus a real headstart into many areas of the three countries. It really is a raging outbreak at this time.

By the way, Ebola has been springing up in various countries in Africa since 1976; prior to this outbreak nearly all cases had been in Central Africa. This time in appeared in countries where it had never been before. Local residents had no idea what they were dealing with. People in Central Africa probably have an eye for the disease as well as a much greater awareness of how it spreads.

When Patrick Sawyer flew into Lagos and collapsed, it was not immediately clear that he had Ebola, but within about 24 hours, the authorities did know and quickly put Sawyer into isolation and started following up with his contacts. Nigeria had the benefit of seeing what has already happened in the other countries. Just compare three months to one day and you can imagine the difference in containment.

Yesterday the Federal Government demanded that all public and private schools close (or extend the summer holiday they are currently on). This is a bit of a shock to the system when things seem to be getting so much better in Nigeria. I'm hoping that once all of the people under surveillance have come out of the 21-day potential incubation period that this ban will be lifted. Meanwhile, we are going ahead with staff training and sending homework packets home with the students.