South Africa put on alert for

South Africa put on alert for Ebola risk

South African border health authorities has been warned to watch out for arrivals from countries such as Guinea where an Ebola outbreak has claimed 59 lives.

South Africa put on alert for

ebolaTravellers from Ebola-stricken countries in West Africa could be importing the deadly virus into South Africa, The National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) has warned.

In an alert issued to port health authorities, NICD said that they should watch out for arrivals from Guinea where the killer disease has claimed 59 lives.

As well as Guinea, health officials are investigating five deaths in neighbouring Liberia after people crossed its border in search of medical treatment.

CBC reported that ‘panic has erupted’ in Guinea’s capital, Conakry, after just two suspected fatalities. Government issued warnings on state radio urging people to wash hands and avoid contact with sick people.

But the official statement from NICD is that there is only “low” risk for South Africans. A statement on its website seemed to contradict the risk inferred from the leaked alert stated on Business Day: “The outbreak is confined at the moment to remote rural parts of Guinea and few people would travel to this area for work or tourism.

“Health workers and family members of the infected persons in the outbreak area would therefore be at risk,” read the commentary dated today, 25 March.

Ebola  has a fatality rate of 90% and leads to severe hemorrhagic fever in victims. There is no vaccine or treatment. Vomiting and bleeding which are experienced by the sufferer as the disease progresses represent the main dangers of its contagion, because Ebola is transmitted via blood or other bodily fluids of infected people.

The World Health Organisation says that health care workers have been infected with Ebola when not wearing gloves, masks or goggles. It even warns that the disease can be transferred through a dead person killed by Ebola.

In July 2012 an outbreak in Uganda was dismissed by the NICD as a minor concern for South Africa, because they said it was unlikely Ebola victims would be in a position to travel.

The first case of diagnosed Ebola fever in South Africa was in 1996. The victim was a nurse who had been infected with blood from a doctor from Gabon who had Ebola.