10 things you need to know about Ebola

1. Ebola virus disease (previously known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever) is a rare but severe disease, which is caused by Ebola virus. It was first recognized in 1976 and has caused sporadic outbreaks ever since in several African countries.

2. More than 1,500 cases have been reported in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone since March 2014, of which there have been more than 900 deaths. This is the first documented Ebola outbreak in West Africa and the largest ever known outbreak of this disease. There are currently no signs that the outbreak is coming under control, with new cases reported daily from both known and new outbreak areas. Cases of virus transmission continue to emerge in both the community and health-care settings. All 3 capital cities have been affected: Conakry (Guinea), Monrovia (Liberia) and Freetown (Sierra Leone). In addition, the situation in Nigeria is currently evolving and the extent to which this country will also be involved in the outbreak is unknown.

3. The continued spread of the disease probably relates at least in part to issues of strong, local cultural beliefs (such as washing the bodies of the dead, and the stigma surrounding the disease); overpopulation and crowding; migration of people across borders; a perception by local people that the healthcare professionals attempting to help are making things worse; and inadequate human resources on a background of deep poverty.

4. The virus is transmitted to people initially from wild animals, and then from person to person via contact with blood and body fluids. In addition, contaminated objects (clothes, needles) can also transmit infection if handled. Airborne transmission is thought to be limited to those viruses carried in large droplets of human secretions.

5. Infection with Ebola virus leads to sudden onset of fever, chills, muscle aches, headache, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, with sore throat and in some cases a rash. This will develop as early as 2 days after infection and as late as 21 days. This is then followed by impaired kidney and liver function and stomach pain, and in some cases uncontrolled bleeding, both external (such as through puncture sites) and internal (causing vital organ damage). Ebola is fatal in 50 to 90% of cases who develop these signs and symptoms.

6. Many other far more common illnesses in these countries start off like Ebola, such as flu, typhoid, and malaria. This makes prompt and early assessment even more important – especially since survival seems better in those cases identified early.

7. It is very important to remember that you will not be at risk of Ebola infection unless you have been in close contact with people with the above symptoms. You cannot catch Ebola from people who are well, with the exception of close contact of a sexual nature, as patients who have recovered may still be infectious for a considerable period of time.

8. Nevertheless, if you feel unwell with symptoms such as fever, chills, muscle aches, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, sore throat or rash within 21 days of coming back from Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone, you should stay at home and immediately telephone relevant health services. These services will provide advice and arrange for you to be seen in a hospital if necessary, so that the cause of your illness can be determined as quickly as possible. Unless you have had direct contact with sick people in these countries, another diagnosis for which treatment is available (such as malaria) may be made, and you will be treated.

9. For those performing humanitarian work in these countries, the risk of Ebola infection will relate entirely to the quality and consistency of your personal Infection Control procedures and discipline. Perfect and vital barrier technique includes wearing protective gowns, gloves, masks and eye protection or face shields, and the careful removal of these after use. WHO recommendations address direct patient care, laboratory activities, post mortem examinations, movement and burial of human remains, cleaning and waste disposal.

10. In conclusion:
Don’t go to these countries unless you really have to
If you are there, be very careful to avoid crowded public places and close contact with others. If you are there for humanitarian purposes, go prepared, trained, vigilant, and equipped with personal protective equipment

Author: Dr. Vanya Gant

SOURCE : www.healthytravelblog.com

Two vaccines are better than one

New research suggests using two types of polio vaccine is more effective than using just one. The research team found administering an injection of the inactivated polio virus (IPV) alongside the oral dose of activated poliovirus vaccine (OPV) boosts patients’ immunity. It’s hoped the findings could help speed up the eradication of polio reports expat health.org

Currently, the oral vaccine is leading the battle against polio but this new research from India may change the way we fight the virus. The findings, which World Health Organisation calls “truly historic”, will potentially lead to a total eradication of the disease which is now widespread in only three countries.

Fighting polio has been one of the greatest global health success stories. As recently as 1988 there were 350,000 cases of polio in 125 countries. Once the worldwide vaccination programme was launched in 1988, the number of cases fell dramatically to just 291 in 2012. Polio is currently widespread in only three countries – Nigeria, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

The disease is spread through contact with infected faeces and the oral vaccine is currently the preferred prevention method as it’s cheap and protects digestive tract from lower transmission of the virus. The injected vaccine works largely in the bloodstream. However, the protection offered by the oral vaccine wanes over time, so repeated doses are needed.

In this latest study, reported in Science Magazine, doctors tested the two vaccines on 1,000 children in northern India. The use of both types of vaccine lowered transmission and infection. “They both have an important role to play in the eradication programme,” said Professor Nick Grassly, co-author of the study.

The use of the IPV is more effective as a booster than multiple doses of the OPV, according to the study. However, the biggest challenge facing health workers, is not which vaccine to use, but accessing children in conflict zones.

South Korea to double to price of cigarettes

The Korean government aims to tackle high smoking rates by doubling the cost of cigarettes.
South Korea is looking at doubling the cost of cigarettes in a bid to lower the smoking rate, reports the BBC. Under the proposed changes, the price of a packet of cigarettes would go up to 4,500 won (€3.35), the price is currently 2,500 won (€1.87).

South Korea has one of the highest male smoking rates among OECD member countries. About 41% of men smoke, according to the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development, this is higher than the 26% average reports expat health.org

The proposal, which would come into effect next year, is designed to lower the overall smoking rate (23%), which is also higher than the OECD average of 21%. The last increase in price was in 2004 when it went up by 500 won and the smoking rate fell 15%, reports Korean news agency Yonhap.

There have been many studies which appear to confirm a link between raising the price of cigarettes and a drop in the smoking rate. Researchers agree that a 10% increase in prices results in a 3-5% reduction in cigarette consumption.

Reports from Yonhap also said tobacco manufacturers would be required to print graphic warnings on packaging, and some types of advertising would be banned. General warnings on packaging were introduced in 1976, with graphic warnings originally introduced in 2007.

The South Korean government hopes the price increase will generate an estimated 2.8 trillion won in tax revenue. The opposition have already called it a “deceitful move” which will impact low-income earners as they smoke more than other population groups.

In April this year South Korea’s health agency launched a lawsuit against three of the largest tobacco manufacturers including the local arm of Philip Morris International, to offset the cost of treating smoking-related illness.