Ireland is at ‘very low risk’ from the Ebola virus
Published 12/08/2014 | 00:00
The Ebola virus has claimed hundreds of lives — but for Ireland and people living outside African countries the threat is very low.
The deaths are mainly in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.
People can become be infected with the Ebola virus if they come into contact with the blood, body fluids or organs of an infected person.
Most people are infected by giving care to other infected people— either by directly touching the victim’s body or by cleaning up body fluids (stools, urine or vomit) that carry infectious blood.
Traditional African burial rituals have also played a part in its spread. The Ebola virus can survive for several days outside the body, including on the skin of an infected person, and it’s common practice for mourners to touch the body of the deceased.
They only then need to touch their mouth to become infected.
If anyone from Ireland has to visit any of the affected countries the advice is to take simple precautions:
• don’t handle dead animals or their raw meat
• don’t eat ‘bushmeat’
• avoid contact with patients who have symptoms
• avoid having sex with people in risk areas; use a condom if you do
• make sure fruit and vegetables are washed and peeled before you eat them
• wash hands frequently using soap and water (alcohol hand rubs when soap is not available), as this destroys the virus.
An infected person will typically develop a fever, headache, joint and muscle pain, sore throat, and intense muscle weakness. Diarrhoea, vomiting, a rash, stomach pain and impaired kidney and liver function follow. The patient then bleeds internally, and may also bleed from the ears, eyes, nose or mouth. Ebola virus disease is fatal in 50-90pc of cases. The sooner a person is given care, the better the chances that they will survive. Symptoms start suddenly, between two and 21 days after becoming infected, but usually after five to seven days.
Flight crew are trained to respond swiftly to any passengers who develop symptoms during a flight from Africa. They will take measures to reduce transmission on board the plane. But this event is very unlikely, and so far there have been no documented cases of people catching the disease simply by being in the same plane as an Ebola victim.