Health Ministry advisory on Ebola outbreak

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BRUNEI is at a “very low risk” of catching the Ebola virus, the Ministry of Health (MoH) stated following an assessment of outbreaks reported in several African countries.

In a statement released yesterday, the ministry advised the public “not to panic or be concerned” about the epidemic occurring in Brunei.

Ebola is a serious disease with a high mortality rate, infecting humans and animals such as bats, monkeys, chimpanzees and gorillas. There is no anti-infection vaccine or specific treatment for the disease.

Until August 1, the World Health Organisation (WHO) reported 1,603 Ebola cases with 887 deaths. All these cases have been reported in West Africa countries, namely Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and Nigeria.

The outbreak is believed to result from handling infected or dead animals found in the woods, while infection from human-to-human transmission occurs through direct contact with an infected patient.

Infection through direct contact occurs with the bodily fluids of an infected patient, such as blood, saliva and faeces.

Signs of Ebola infection include fever, muscle aches, headache, sore throat, lack of energy and feeling very weak.

The patient will experience vomiting, diaorrhea, rashes, kidney failure and liver failure. Some patients were also found to be bleeding. A patient will typically infect others when showing initial signs of illness.

So far, the WHO has not issued any travel restrictions to the affected places. However, MoH advised people to avoid visiting the areas as precautionary and preventative measures.

Those travelling to the affected places were told to take preventative and control measures such as practising good hygiene with frequent hand washing using soap and water or hand sanitiser.

Travellers were also told not to approach or visit Ebola patients; those who treat them; the patient’s home, clinic or hospital where the disease is treated.

The ministry further advised people to avoid exposure to or handling wild animals that are sick or dead, including exposure to raw meat or eating meat that has not been well-cooked.

Another precautionary and preventative measure was to avoid attending or conducting funerals for Ebola patients who have passed away.

In the statement, the MoH urged travellers to seek immediate medical attention if they experience symptoms of the disease.

People returning from affected areas within 21 days of travel were also advised to inform their doctor or health officials about their travel history.

The MoH said they will continue to monitor Ebola outbreak as well as seek advice and updates from the WHO. The ministry will also inform the public about developments of the ebola epidemic, if necessary.

The Brunei Times