Ebola Singapore: Find out facts about this deadly disease
While it's been confirmed that the recent suspected case of Ebola in Singapore was a false alarm, it's still good to know your facts about this killer virus. Keep reading to find out more...
You may have heard of the news report of a suspected Ebola case entering Singapore. You might have even panicked if you know exactly how deadly Ebola is.
However, you will be relieved to know that it was just a false alarm. Here’s what happened, based on news reports.
According to a report in The Straits Times, a Nigerian woman in her 50s was identified as a suspected Ebola case by doctors in Gleneagles hospital on Thursday (August 14th) morning. She had flown into Singapore recently and arrived at the hospital’s emergency department with fever.
The woman was immediately isolated and transferred to Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) by ambulance. Since then, however, reports reveal that this was a false Ebola alarm and the woman has been discharged.
According to the Straits Times report, Professor Philip Choo, TTSH’s chief executive officer, said, “We saw a patient with a history from Nigeria,” but her detailed history revealed “no contact with any suspect or confirmed patients.”
While we can all breathe a collective sigh of relief knowing that this was just a false alarm, it still is good to know some facts about this disease and understand what precautionary measures the Singapore government has in place, should an Ebola outbreak occur.
Key facts about Ebola
*This information is sourced from the World Health Organisation (WHO).
- Ebola virus disease (EVD) is a serious, often fatal illness.
- It has a case fatality rate of up to 90% and is considered to be one of the world’s most virulent diseases.
- The infection is transmitted by direct contact with the blood, body fluids and tissues of infected animals or people. It is not airborne.
- EVD outbreaks commonly occur in remote Central and West African villages.
- The virus is transmitted to humans from wild animals and then spreads among people via human-to-human contact.
- No licensed specific treatment or vaccine is available yet for the treatment or prevention of this disease.
Signs and symptoms of Ebola
According to the WHO, EVD is often characterised by the sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat.
These symptoms are followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function, and, in some cases, both internal and external bleeding.
The WHO claims that people are infectious as long as their blood and secretions contain the virus.
To put in perspective just how virulent this disease is, Ebola virus was isolated from semen 61 days after the onset of illness in a man who was infected in a laboratory.
The Ministry of Health, Singapore (MoH) states that patients are not contagious during the incubation period and become contagious once they begin to show symptoms.
Where in the world is there a current outbreak of Ebola?
The MoH reports that there have been several Ebola outbreaks in Africa since the disease first appeared in 1976.
At present, there is an outbreak of EVD in West Africa, which was first reported in late March 2014.
While Ebola virus disease outbreaks can devastate families and communities, the infection can be controlled through the use of recommended protective measures in clinics and hospitals, at community gatherings, or at home.
You’ll be happy to know that the MoH has listed out detailed plans of how to deal with an Ebola case, should one occur in Singapore.
According to a report in The Straits Times:
- Changi Airport will isolate passengers with signs of Ebola and take them to Tan Tock Seng Hospital immediately.
- All suspected cases will be managed in negative pressure isolation control rooms with strict infection control procedures.
- Samples for Ebola virus testing will be sent to designated facilities at the National Public Health Laboratory.
- All those with whom patients were in contact with will be traced, and close contacts will be quarantined and monitored for up to 21 days at the government quarantine facility at Pasir Ris.
- The MoH has also advised hospitals and clinics to be alert for suspect cases.
- Nationals from Ebola-hit areas such as Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Nigeria will be issued health advisories when they enter Singapore’s immigration checkpoints.
- The advisory notes that travellers should consult a doctor early and inform the doctor of their travel history if they fall ill with sudden fever, stomach pains, diarrhoea, vomitting, rash or bleeding within three weeks of being in affected areas in West Africa.
The MoH has advised all Singaporeans to postpone non-essential travel to West Africa, even though the WHO has not issued any travel or other bans to West Africa.
However, the Ministry’s assessment is that the Ebola outbreak in West Africa poses a low public health risk to Singapore.
This is because person-to-person transmission results from direct contact with bodily fluids of those infected, and the current outbreak is limited to West Africa. Also, travel connectivity between Singapore and West Africa is low.
But if you do need to travel to this region, the MoH advices adopting the following precautions:
Practice frequent hand washing (e.g. after going to the toilet, or when hands are soiled).
Avoid direct contact with blood, secretions or other body fluids of infected living or dead persons or animals, as well as environments that have become contaminated with these infectious fluids such as soiled clothing, bed linen, or used needles.
Avoid taking part in burial ceremonies which require direct contact with the body of a deceased infected person.
Avoid contact with wild animals, including bats, monkeys, apes, chimpanzees and gorillas, whether alive or dead, including their raw or undercooked meat.
Returning travellers from affected areas or travellers who suspect that they have been exposed to the Ebola virus should seek immediate medical attention and mention their recent travel to the attending physician if they develop any disease symptoms while travelling in or within 3 weeks of being in any of the areas.
Do watch the following video issued by the WHO to learn more about this deadly disease:
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