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Thursday 18 September 2014

HSE confirm 'no Ebola case' in Ireland

Sarah Stack and Denise Calnan

Published 15/08/2014 | 08:44

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Health chiefs have confirmed there is 'no case' of the highly-infectious Ebola virus in Ireland.

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The Health Service Executive (HSE) told independent.ie there is no confirmed or suspected case in the country following reports that a patient suspected of having the highly infectious virus was being transferred to an isolation unit in an Irish hospital this morning.

"There are no confirmed, or suspected, cases of Ebola in Ireland," a HSE spokeswoman said.

"The National Isolation Unit in the Mater Hospital is used for patients with a variety of infectious diseases. Negative pressure is a feature of this specialist facility, as part of normal infection control procedures.

"The HSE's Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC), along with all other national infectious disease institutes in Europe, was alerted to this Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak in March 2014.

"HPSC immediately alerted hospital clinicians and GPs around the country of the outbreak and WHO guidelines are being followed in Ireland," she continued.

"EVD is one type of Viral Haemorrhagic Fever (VHF) and the HPSC has an extensive range of guidance on its website on assessing individuals who are suspected of having a VHF and who present to their doctor or to hospital.

"This guidance provides advice on the isolation, assessment and management of individuals suspected of having Ebola or any other serious viral haemorrhagic fever."

Independent.ie confirmed from a number of different sources that there is no suspected case of the Ebola virus in the country.

"I can say that the Mater Hospital Infectious Control Unit is not preparing for or expecting an Ebola case," said a spokeswoman for the hospital.

The Mater Hospital is the national assessment centre for infectious diseases in Ireland and regularly assesses patients who are deemed at risk to such conditions.

A source told independent.ie that the Mater Hospital regularly “assesses” people for all types of conditions in their unit, describing it as an “everyday occurrence”.

Over 1,000 people have already died across West Africa from the disease.

The World Health Organisation yesterday warned that the number of Ebola victims in west Africa may ‘vastly underestimate the magnitude of the outbreak’.

With more than 1,060 deaths and 1,975 sufferers, the Ebola outbreak is already the deadliest ever and the United Nations health agency says it is prepared for the crisis to continue for months.

Liberian officials faced a difficult choice - deciding which handful of Ebola patients would receive an experimental drug that could prove life-saving, ineffective or even harmful.

ZMapp, the untested Ebola drug, arrived in the country on Wednesday. A day later, no one had yet received the treatment, which officials said would go to three people.

The outbreak, which was first identified in March in Guinea and since spread to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria, has overwhelmed the already strained health systems in west Africa and raised questions about whether authorities are doing enough to respond.

There is no licensed treatment for Ebola, a virus transmitted by contact with bodily fluids, so doctors have turned to the limited supply of untested drugs to treat some cases.

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