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Govt says on high alert to avoid spread of Ebola

28 March 2014, 09:01

Nairobi - The ministry of health said on Thursday that it has instituted several measures to ensure that any Ebola cases that come to the country are quickly detected and necessary actions taken to void further spread in the country.

Health Cabinet Secretary, James Macharia said the ministry has also issued an alert to all the points of entry with a request to screen all people who have visited Guinea where the hemorrhagic fever was first detected in the last three weeks.

"These people are required to reveal when they travelled to Guinea, areas in which visited and how long they stayed there," Macharia said in a statement issued in Nairobi.

"They are also required to inform the health officials if they have any symptoms that have been listed. All cases that will be considered as suspected cases will be isolated and investigated immediate in order to rule out Ebola HF," he added.

The statement comes as health officials in Guinea are working to contain an outbreak of Ebola that has killed at least 60 people and sickened dozens more, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The outbreak is spreading through forests in the West African country's southeast, and may have crossed borders into Liberia and Sierra Leone, WHO said.

The virus is transmitted by direct contact with the blood, secretions, other bodily fluids or organs of infected persons or animals such as chimpanzees, gorillas, monkeys and antelopes, and it has an incubation period of two to 21 days.

Sufferers can experience fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headaches and a sore throat, as well as vomiting, diarrhoea, rashes and impaired kidney and liver function. In the most severe cases, the virus leads to both external and internal bleeding.

Macharia said the national taskforce has been reactivated and is advising the government on the necessary measures to be taken, stressing that the health ministry is very well prepared to detect and immediate respond to any Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever (HF).

"Following several outbreaks of hemorrhagic fevers (Ebola and Marburg) in our neighboring countries in the last 3 years, the ministry has built a very strong capacity in terms of training people on how to identify, investigate, treat and control ay outbreak," he said.

Macharia said the country has also stocked enough drugs for supportive management in all hospitals, all points of entry as well as all major hospitals which he said have adequate amount of isolated facilities and personal protective equipment.

"Our Viral Hemorrhagic Fever laboratory at KEMRI is also very well prepared to test any suspected cases and has been testing all suspected cases in the country as well as assisting some of our neighboring countries," Machaira said.

Experts say there is an urgent need to increase public awareness on this deadly disease as well as to put in place as strong surveillance mechanism to allow for proper follow-up of all the cases.

The virus suspected in the Guinea outbreak is the Zaire ebolavirus, which was last seen in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2009. It's the deadliest ebolavirus, with a fatality rate approaching 90 percent.

- Xinhua

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