In a public post on the Jamaica Infomation Service (JIS) website Jamaica should be on the lalert for ebola. There are no reported cases of the Ebola virus in Jamaica at this time. The Ministry of Health has ultimate oversight for the surveillance and response strategies to any possible cases of the virus in Jamaica.
What is Ebola?
Ebola, formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, is a viral illness that is often severe and fatal in humans. According to the World Health Organisation, WHO, the initial symptoms include fever, weakness, muscle pain and sore throat, all of which can be overlooked as symptoms of common illnesses.
However as the virus spreads through the body the symptoms become more acute and include vomiting, diarrhoea and – in some cases – both internal and external bleeding.
Ebola has a mortality rate of 90%.
While Ebola outbreaks usually occur in remote villages in Central and West Africa, near tropical rainforests, accelerated global travel has increased the risk for the virus to present itself in countries where Ebola was not previously a health risk.
As a result several countries are making preparations to respond to any possible Ebola cases to prevent further human-to-human transmission.
How is Ebola spread?
Fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family are considered to be the natural host of the Ebola virus. In Africa, the virus is introduced into the human population through close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals, usually infected chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats, monkeys, forest antelope and porcupines found ill or dead or in the rainforest.
Ebola then spreads in the community 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. The virus can also be transmitted from deceased Ebola patients to mourners who have direct contact with the body during burial ceremonies. Men who have recovered from the disease can still transmit the virus through their semen for up to 7 weeks after recovery from illness.
Initial symptoms of Ebola include:
Here are some steps that can be taken if there is an Ebola alert in your area:
Standard treatment for Ebola is still limited to supportive therapy. This consists of:
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