Mpumalanga on high alert following Ebola outbreak

Mbombela - All Mpumalanga healthcare facilities are on high alert following the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

Provincial health spokesperson Dumisani Malamule told African Eye News Service on Thursday that all hospitals and clinics are on alert for anyone who has travelled to "Viral Haemorrhagic Fever" risk areas, where Ebola is suspected or has been reported.

"The department has functional outbreak response teams at all levels. These teams are responsible for controlling and managing any suspected case of a communicable disease that has the potential to cause an outbreak or epidemic,” he said.

The latest information from the World Health Organisation (WHO) shows that Ebola is not yet under control in Nigeria, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. New cases and deaths have been reported.

In total, 1 323 cases, including 729 deaths, have been reported during the outbreak. There's a 55% chance of dying of the disease.

Malamule said the risk of infection for travellers is generally low since most infections result from direct contact with the body fluids or secretions of infected patients.

This tends to happen mainly in hospitals as a result of unsafe procedures and lack of proper protection.

He said the frequency of travel between southern and western African countries is also low, making the overall risk of Ebola spreading to South Africa low.

There is no vaccine available for Ebola as yet. Standard treatment is limited to supportive therapy, while severely ill patients require intensive supportive care.

Patients who are suspected to have Ebola should be isolated from other patients and treated by healthcare workers using very strict precautions to prevent being infected. 

Early symptoms of Ebola are the same as many other infections that can be acquired in West Africa, including malaria, dengue fever, Lassa fever, and typhoid fever, said Malamule.