Ebola virus disease (EVD), formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, is a severe, often fatal illness in humans. The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission.
The Ebola virus causes an acute, serious illness which is often fatal if untreated. Ebola virus disease (EVD) first appeared in 1976 in 2 simultaneous outbreaks, one in Nzara, Sudan, and the other in Yambuku, Democratic Republic of Congo. The latter occurred in a village near the Ebola River, from which the disease takes its name.
The current outbreak in west Africa, (first cases notified in March 2014), is the largest and most complex Ebola outbreak since the Ebola virus was first discovered in 1976. There have been more cases and deaths in this outbreak than all others combined. It has also spread between countries starting in Guinea then spreading across land borders to Sierra Leone and Liberia, by air (1 traveller only) to Nigeria, and by land (1 traveller) to Senegal.
News of the deadly virus has gone on the down low for a while now, but for those in the affected countries it remains a very real threat they are battling every day.
It seems now even those in the very upper echelons of government are not safe from its clutches.
Sierra Leone Vice-President Samuel Sam-Sumana has had himself placed in quarantine after one of his bodyguards died from Ebola.
The Vice President would thus be placed under close observation, away from any other contact for the next 21 days. His staff would also undergo the strict quarantine procedures.
Vice President Samuel Sam-Sumana is set to become acting president later Sunday when President Ernest Bai Koroma leaves Sierra Leone to attend a European Union conference on Ebola in Belgium. Sam-Sumana will carry out his presidential duties from his home.
He is the highest ranking African official to be in quarantine in this Ebola outbreak in West Africa, which is fast approaching a death toll of 10,000. The news highlights the rise of new cases in Sierra Leone, which has experienced a setback in curbing the spread of Ebola.
Sam-Sumana voluntarily decided to quarantine himself for 21 days following the death from Ebola last Tuesday of one of his security personnel.
“This virus has affected thousands of our people and has nearly brought our country to its knees,” said Sam-Sumana in a statement on Sunday. “We all have a collective responsibility to break the chains of transmission by isolating the sick and reporting all known contacts, by not touching the dead … We cannot be complacent. We must work together as a nation to end Ebola now,” he said.
Ebola has killed over 9,000 since it’s outbreak in West Africa last year, centred in the three countries of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.
As a key transit point for air travel in the sub-region, Ghana remains at risk but for now we have managed to avoid the disease, despite several scares. In fact at this point we have all but forgotten about the outbreak.