Friday 28 November 2014

6 reasons not to panic about Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in Ireland

While the world is experiencing the worst ever outbreak of EVD, the threat to Ireland is very low. Here is six reasons not to panic.

Patricia Murphy

Published 01/08/2014 | 11:37

The world is experiencing a deadly outbreak of deadly Ebola Virus disease and has killed more than 700 people in West Africa. The disease has no known cure and only one in ten people who contract the disease survive.

Although the outbreak is worrisome, here are six reasons why we shouldn’t be panicking in Ireland just yet.

Ebola has never been reported in Ireland

Seasonal outbreaks of EVD have occurred since 1976 but the disease has never made its way to Ireland. In fact, only one case was ever reported in Europe and it was in Switzerland.

 

Everyone is being checked before boarding planes from West Africa

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has begun a huge operation which involves inspecting passengers boarding international flights from West Africa to prevent the spread of the disease.

There is also no direct route from Ireland to West Africa, so other international airports act as buffers, lessening the risk further.

 

Ebola Virus Disease isn’t airborne

Unlike influenza the virus is not highly contagious and does not pass through the air, so even if you were to board a plane with an infected person, the likelihood of contracting the virus would be minimal.

The virus is passed through bodily fluids, such as vomit, sweat, blood and secretions.

A big problem in West Africa is that burial ceremonies, in which mourners have direct contact with the body of the deceased person, can increase the spread of the disease because a person can transmit the virus even after death.

 

Ebola won’t get very far

If Ebola was to get into Ireland the HSE’s Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) is very capable in handling suspected infections. Speaking to Pat Kenny on Newstalk yesterday, Dr Darina O’Flanagan head of HPSC said: “We’ve been preparing for the possibility for a long time. The risk is very low, but because it’s a very dangerous pathogen we’re ready.”

 

We won’t have an outbreak like Sierra Leone

The health care system in places like Sierra Leone does not measure up to hospitals in the developed world.

Twelve beds have been allocated in the Mater high security unit in the unlikely case that the disease makes its way into the country.

“Ireland has a National Isolation Unit (NIU) located at the Mater Misericordiae Hospital in Dublin and is the national referral centre for high risk suspected and confirmed cases of VHF and other serious infectious diseases,’ a spokesperson from the HPSC said.

 

Alerted

The Department of Foreign Affairs has asked that Irish travellers recently returning from West Africa to monitor their temperature. If a temperature of over 38 degrees is reported they are urged to seek urgent medical attention.

Advice regarding the disease has issued by the Irish Embassies n West Africa, based in Freetown and Lagos to insure all Irish citizens take precautions.

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