MINISTRY OF HEALTH

PUBLIC STATEMENT

EBOLA VIRUS OUTBREAK IN WEST AFRICA

 August 8th, 2014

           

The world is presently witnessing the largest outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease in history with over 1700 cases identified and over 900 deaths. As a result, even as we await the decisions from the World Health Organization’s Emergency Committee meeting taking place in Geneva this week, the Ministry of Health has started increasing preventative measures in response to this threat.

Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), formerly known as Ebola Haemorrhagic Fever), is a severe, often fatal illness. Up to 9 out of every 10 people with the infection die. There are no licensed specific treatments or vaccine available for use in people or animals.   The time between acquiring an infection and showing symptoms and signs varies from 2 to 21 days.

The virus is highly infectious and is spread by person-to-person transmission through direct contact with bodily fluids or secretions of infected persons including blood, sweat, urine or faeces.  

The most common symptoms experienced by persons infected with the virus are the sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function, and at advanced stage, both internal and external bleeding.

Although Dominica does not have direct flights with countries where transmission of Ebola is currently being documented, the introduction of Ebola Virus Disease into our Region may occur through international air travellers.

Furthermore, in the light of the current epidemiological and social context, preparedness efforts to face the introduction of possible Ebola cases is warranted even though the risk to Dominica is low.

The Honourable Minister for Health is keeping Cabinet abreast of all developments and the Government of Dominica is making every effort to protect our citizens from the Ebola Virus.

Immediate measures are being taken to strengthen the surveillance system already in place under the International Health Regulations.  This includes providing relevant information to travellers, increasing medical staff at ports of entry, mobilizing appropriate protective gear, making arrangements for quarantine of persons who are suspect.

In addition, discussions and consultations are taking place between Ministry of Health officials and relevant stakeholders in our community  as well as with international partners including the World Health Organization (WHO), the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA).

Local health personnel are being updated on how to recognize and manage Ebola and all relevant stakeholders are being informed so that necessary plans are in place.

The Ministry of Health will continue to keep the Public informed about Ebola and urges everyone to pay close attention to the messages that will be disseminated in the coming days and weeks.  A hotline number will be made available shortly to receive further information or advice.