More than 3,000 GPs get virus protection packs
MORE than 3,000 family doctors are being issued with special Ebola protection packs - complete with masks, gowns and goggles, which they should wear if they are faced with a suspected case of the deadly virus.
Dr Nuala O'Connor, a Cork doctor with the Irish College of General Practitioners, who has been co-ordinating the effort with the Health Service Executive (HSE), said the packs were first suggested several months ago. The kit also contains step-by-step advice on how to assess the patient and how they should be referred for hospital care.
She said it is very unlikely GPs will find one of their patients has Ebola but it is important to bear in mind the amount of global travel undertaken every day.
"Around 70pc of the world is connected by two flights. It is important that patients travelling to countries where there is Ebola know how to protect themselves and understand that if they have a fever and are feeling unwell when they come back, they need to make contact with a doctor and ask what they do."
She said doctors are requesting that if patients come to the surgery, they do not come into a waiting room.
"We are depending on the patient themselves to be sensible about it. There are other infections including avian flu, a new strain of bird flu in China, that we are concerned about.
"Somebody could just turn up unwell but we would hope there is so much information out there now that they would know what to do."
The Ebola virus is not airborne like flu and is passed on from contact with the blood, body fluids or organs of an infected person.
A spokesman for Aer Lingus said the airline was already well informed on communicable diseases of all kinds and passengers should be reassured that all precautions are in place.
The Department of Foreign Affairs has updated its advice to avoid non-essential travel to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. It is also recommending restrictions on travel to parts of Nigeria.
If somebody has Ebola they will develop fever, headache, joint or muscle pain, sore throat and intense muscle weakness. This usually comes on around two to 21 days after getting infection but usually after five to seven days. It is most likely the symptoms point to another illness, such as malaria, but there is a need to be tested for Ebola as a precaution.