“Preventive measures” are being put in place in Dominica as the world faces the largest outbreak of the deadly disease, Ebola.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared the outbreak in West Africa as an “international public health emergency” that requires an extraordinary response to stop its spread.
In a release on Friday the Ministry of Health (MOH) said although “Dominica does not have direct flights with countries where transmission of Ebola is currently being documented,” preventive measures are being put in place in response to the threat.
It said “in 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 release noted that the introduction of Ebola Virus Disease into the region may occur through international air travellers.
“Immediate measures are being taken to strengthen the surveillance system already in place under the International Health Regulations,” the MOH said. “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.”
Additionally, “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 release said.
A hotline number will be made available soon and the public will be kept informed on the disease.
Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), formerly known as Ebola Haemorrhagic Fever, is a severe, often fatal illness. Up to nine 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 two 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.