As Ebola virus spreads through the world, Pakistan is also at high risk of getting affected by this deadly virus that has no cure, till date. Ebola hemorrhagic fever has caused more than 7,000 deaths so far and the count is rising by every passing day.
What is Ebola virus and is Pakistan ready to counter the virus if it reaches here? Read on..
What is Ebola virus
Ebola is perhaps the most mysterious virus of this age, formerly known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever, is a worm like virus that is transmitted from wild-animals to humans and other humans exposed to the risk of the virus if in company of an infected patient. Ebola virus is spread through direct blood contact with a person who has been infected. This threat turns into a worry when one knows that no proper treatment has been discovered yet to fight against Ebola. The virus causes internal bleeding in a person which can only be controlled is special and adequate medical health services are provided. However, during in the initial outbreak of the virus, people generally believed the virus to be cholera or Lassa fever which are lesser lethal forms of hemorrhage fever.
The worst Ebola virus outbreak that the world witnessed, started with the death of a little African boy, Emile Ouamouno. It was the end of last year when this boy who resided in Meliandou, a small village isolated in the suburbs of Africa, used to travel back & forth to Liberia to sell his goods. It was in December 2013 that the virus infested him leading to his death after a few weeks of experiencing high fever, nausea, vomiting ultimately leading to the failure of his organs due to internal bleeding. His unfortunate death was followed by the death of his sister a few days later and his pregnant mother who lost her life against this disease. Ever since, the outbreak has resulted in over 5,500 deaths in West Africa alone.
Medical authorities have been highly working to develop vaccines for the virus that could prevent future outbursts the disease however, nothing has been announced yet. However, two vaccines are currently being tested with hopes to put an end to this fatal threat. According to a recent report , the first experimental Ebola vaccine has shown success in the first human trials.
Signs and Symptoms of Ebola virus
The most critical aspect of the disease is the fact that the signs and symptoms are no special than a regular cold and fever. With temperatures running high, the human body is destined to experience muscle fatigue, lethargy, chills headaches. However, one may never find out that they have been infected with this deadly virus until the severity of symptoms increase. However, below are the officially stated symptoms of the virus,
– Muscle Pain & Fatigue
– Abdominal Pain
When the symptoms get severe, a patient may experience the following,
– Red eyes
– Chest pain & cough
– Extreme weight loss
– Bleeding (usually from eyes, and in some cases from ears, nose etc.)
These symptoms may surface within 2-20 days since the penetration of the virus in a human body. If a patient survives the attack, his body develops antibodies that protect him from Ebola infestation for the next 10 years of his life.
Precautions from Ebola
Since there is no treatment for this fatal disease, the saying fits perfectly, ‘Prevention is better than cure’. Taking precautions in your day-to-day life is the only way to protect yourself from the disease. Some daily habits such as the ones listed below should keep you protected to the maximum possible,
- Protect Yourself From The Infected
As much as it’s important to care for the ones battling for their lives against Ebola, it is also highly important to keep yourself at a good distance from the patient. Every infected patient is a carrier of the disease and any contact whatsoever can expose you to the risk of catching the virus. Stay away from body fluids of these patients such as blood, semen, vaginal discharge & saliva.
- Do Not Eat Bush Meat
Keep away from the meat of wild animals since they are the (most likely) the host of Ebola virus. Living or dead, the virus can be found in the flesh of an infected primate.
- Maintain A Good Hygiene Level
Make sure washing your hands frequently is at the top of the list when taking your precautions. Hands are exposed to all sorts of dirt and environments.
- Keep Away From Infected Areas
In case you’re planning to travel to an area where a recent Ebola outburst has been seen, you might want to re-consider your options and make change in your plans.
- Do Not Get Close to Remains
The bodies of people affected with Ebola are also a carrier of the virus. One should be very careful in the burial of the patients since the virus can most likely penetrate into another human when in physical contact. Sadly, the death of a person does not lead in the death of the Ebola virus.
Ebola in Pakistan
Since August-September, the threat of Ebola to hit Pakistan has been making headlines. Ever since the WHO representative in Pakistan, Dr Michel Thieren made a statement that Ebola is spreading across the globe like a forest fire, Pakistan is also at a high risk of being struck by the disease. Therefore, the government should take precautionary measures in order to prevent the virus from hitting the country. Since his statement, awareness campaigns and Fight Against Ebola drives have been making rounds in different cities of Pakistan.
The situation was under control until a supposed case of Ebola virus took the headlines. 40 year old Zulfiqar Ahmed from Chiniot was admitted into a hospital in Faisalabad raging with uncontrolled high fever. Majority of the people including the towns doctors believed him to have been caught with the disease. His death in the past week wreaked an uproar of fear in the citizens of Pakistan. However, on further research of the case, Parliamentary Secretary for Cabinet Secretariat Raja Javed Akhlas declared that, “The person, who died in Chiniot, has expired due to Hepatitis C and not Ebola virus,” Zulfiqar had recently come back from a trip to West Africa hence became a victim of the misapprehension. However, no further cases have been reported as the campaigning continues amongst the general public. Since then, there are two more suspected cases reported, one in Karachi and one in Islamabad.
So far government of Pakistan has not announced its policy to track and contain Ebola virus, if it arrives in Pakistan. We do not know if there are any quarantine zones set up at airports and hospitals and if there are any, how well equipped they. The need of time is to have an effective policy in place and get ready to meet the deadly virus if and when it arrives in Pakistan.