Bahrain steps up preventive measures against Ebola
Manama, August 5, 2014
Healthcare workers in Bahrain are on high alert to detect and properly manage any suspected cases of the deadly Ebola virus.
Despite the low risk of the virus spreading to Bahrain, nurses and medics are being kept informed about the actions required to manage an outbreak if it does occur, Public Health Directorate director Dr Mariam Al Hajeri told the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
Ebola virus disease, also known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, is the human disease caused by the blood-borne Ebola virus that carries a mortality rate of up to 90 per cent.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the illness has killed more than 800 people this year alone in a large-scale outbreak affecting several West African nations that is the largest in recorded history.
Those at highest risk of infection are medics, family members and anyone that come into close contact with an infected person.
"A circular has been issued to all healthcare workers, which include nurses and doctors in government and private health sectors, regarding the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa," said Dr Al Hajeri.
"This aims to educate medics on how to handle suspected cases.
"All healthcare workers are instructed to follow standardised measures if they encounter a suspected case of Ebola - these include the immediate isolation of the case, notifications to the communicable disease group, sample collection and strict adherence to infection control measures."
Dr Al Hajeri confirmed that no cases of the disease had been detected so far in Bahrain or anywhere in the Middle East.
"The risk for the international spread of the disease is generally low, including in Bahrain," she said.
"People coming from endemic areas - especially West Africa - will be investigated thoroughly if they show any symptoms suggestive of Ebola.
"The American healthcare worker who contracted Ebola virus while treating patients in Liberia was sent back to US and is being kept in a special hospital.
"However, no reported cases of Ebola occurred in the US and accordingly no specific recommendation is currently in place for travellers from the US."
The GDN reported yesterday on the Cabinet's decision to stop the issuance of entry and work visas for anyone coming from countries affected by the Ebola virus, including Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
"Health Ministry officials are in direct and continuous communication with the WHO to be updated on any new recommendations," said Dr Al Hajeri.
"Health officials in the GCC are also communicating to assess the risk to the region and to decide on any action needed."
Ebola virus was first discovered nearly four decades ago in Zaire, now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and since then there have been sporadic outbreaks although fewer than 1,000 people have been infected annually.
The current outbreak is reportedly the largest in history, affecting more than 1,300 people and killing at least 729 since March.
Early symptoms, according to the WHO, include fever, headache, muscle aches and sore throat that makes Ebola difficult to distinguish from malaria, typhoid fever or cholera. No known vaccine currently exists, although several are under development. - TradeArabia News Service