The Health Protection Agency has told ITV News hospitals in the UK have been put on "alert" after an outbreak of the Ebola virus killed at least 78 people in Guinea, West Africa. But the HPA said it was "extremely unlikely" it would reach Britain.
The Health Protection Agency's director of Global Health has said that UK hospitals have been put on "alert" over Ebola after an outbreak of the virus killed at least 78 in Guinea, West Africa.
Dr Brian McClusky told ITV News: "What we have done is make sure all hospitals in the UK have been alerted, so if a patient turns up, who has those symptoms, who has been to that part of West Africa, they can be tested and looked after in specialist facilities in London.
He added: "The chance of it spreading outside West Africa is relatively small, because essentially people get ill relatively quickly. They are not likely get on a plane and survive a journey.
"It's technically possible that somebody could get on a plane and arrive in the UK. It's extremely unlikely."
The Head of PR for the World Health Organisation (WHO) has taken to Twitter to downplay the severity of the current Ebola virus in Guinea, with Médecins Sans Frontières.
MSF started by tweeting that this type of Ebola virus "kills 9 out of every 10 patients," before Gregory Härtl of WHO jumped in and told them not to "exaggerate."
Härtl continued to the discuss the issues with other followers, especially the issue of travel bans and airports.
The Ebola virus is named after the Ebola River Valley in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, formerly Zaire, where the first reported outbreak was reported in 1976.
Medecins Sans Frontieres describes Ebola as:
One of the world’s most deadly diseases. It is a highly infectious virus that can kill up to 90 percent of the people who catch it, causing terror among infected communities.
Ebola spreads in the blood and shuts down the immune system at first, causing a high fever, headache and muscle pain.
The World Health Organisation categorises the Ebola virus as follows:
- Outbreaks occur primarily in remote villages in Central and West Africa, near tropical rainforests.
- The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals, mainly bats, and spreads through human-to-human transmission.
- No specific treatment or vaccine is available for use in people or animals.
West African foreign ministers have said that the Ebola outbreak is a "threat to regional security."
A number of countries have stepped up border and flight checks. Senegal have said it was imposing sanitary checks at borders "until further notice."
In Conakry people remained calm but some executives at international mining companies voiced concern according to the Telegraph.
"We have asked our employees to avoid physical contact, especially in hospitals," said one executive with a mining firm.
People also avoided shaking hands, an important part of West African greetings.
Five deaths are currently being investigated in Liberia and one in Sierra Leone. At least 78 people in Guinea have known to have died so far.
The Morocco health ministry told MAP News they have put up precautionary measures "especially at Casablanca airport," a key transportation hub for north and west Africa.
The western African country of Guinea has forbidden the sale and consumption of bats, rats and monkeys as the country fights the spread of Ebola which has claimed the lives of over 70 people so far.
“We discovered the vector agent of the Ebola virus is the bat,” said Remy Lamah, the country’s health minister, in an interview from the town of N’zerekore to Bloomberg News.
“People must even avoid consumption of rats and monkeys. They are very dangerous animals.” Communities eat bats in rural areas around the Ebola-stricken towns of Macenta, Gueckedou and Kissidougou.
Guinea faces an Ebola epidemic on an "unprecedented scale" as it battles to contain confirmed cases scattered across several locations that are far apart, medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres says.
“We are facing an epidemic of a magnitude never before seen in terms of the distribution of cases in the country” said Mariano Lugli, coordinator of MSF's project in Conakry.
Guinea's health ministry has reported 122 suspected cases, with at least 78 deaths linked to the virus. It has now spread to neighbouring Liberia, as well as Guinea's capital, Conakry, which has a population of two million people.
The below image shows the town of Gueckedou, with reports of an outbreak. The town has an estimated population of 405,000.
Ebola haemorrhagic fever is a rare but serious disease that spreads rapidly through direct contact with infected people or animals. It can be transmitted by blood and body fluids and is often fatal.
At least 78 people have died after contracting the Ebola virus in the west African nation of Guinea, according to health authorities.
Victims develop internal and external bleeding from the virus, which has no cure.
Neighbouring Senegal has closed its land border with Guinea to keep the virus from spreading further. Liberia has confirmed two cases, including one death.
The Ebola outbreak is the first of its kind in west Africa in two decades.
A World Health Organisation (WHO) representative and health officials old a news conference in the Ugandan capital of Kampala that there is "an outbreak of Ebola" in the country, which has killed 14 people this month.
The Ugandan government and WHO issued a joint statement:
Laboratory investigations done at the Uganda Virus Research Institute have confirmed that the strange disease reported in Kibaale is indeed Ebola haemorrhagic fever.
Officials urged Ugandans to be calm, saying a national emergency taskforce had been set up to stop the disease from spreading far and wide.