What you need to know:
- The known symptoms of Ebola, include high body temperatures, fatigue, chest pain, diarrhoea, vomiting, unexplained bleeding, yellowing of the eyes. Bleeding is usually a late presentation after the above symptoms, according to the Health ministry.
Statistics from the Health Ministry indicate that 20 percent of the 43 people who have contracted Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) during this fresh outbreak have died, a number higher than Covid-19 case-fatality rate which is at around three percent.
Dr Stephen Ataro Ayella, a clinical epidemiologist, who has participated in three Ebola responses, told Monitor on Tuesday that Ebola is more deadly than Covid-19 because of the nature of the virus and the serious complications it causes to the body.
He said although the Ebola is less transmissible, it has more ways of entering the body. “Ebola virus can enter from any opening of the body such as the ear, anus and all other openings; it is also transmitted sexually. Whereas for Covid-19, it is more of respiratory disease; the entry into the body is [mainly] through the nose, eyes and mouth,” he said.
The transmission of the disease is through contact with the blood or fluids of an infected person or objects contaminated with such fluids, according to Dr Diana Atwine, the Permanent Secretary of the Health Ministry.
The known symptoms of Ebola, include high body temperatures, fatigue, chest pain, diarrhoea, vomiting, unexplained bleeding, yellowing of the eyes. Bleeding is usually a late presentation after the above symptoms, according to the Health ministry.
Dr Ataro said Ebola multiplies fast and causes multiple complications such as diarrhoea, vomiting, and electrolyte imbalance (body system changes).
“Ebola can also cause some other secondary infections such as malaria because the virus weakens the body so much. Other disease conditions like pneumonia can occur, brain meningitis can occur, the kidneys and the lungs can be shut down,” he said.
The World Health Organisation statistics show that the Ebola case-fatality rate ranges from 25 percent to 90 percent depending on how the disease is handled. A total of nine people have died of the 43 confirmed cases since the outbreak, according to the Health ministry.
Some health experts have also blamed the high mortality rate of Ebola on the lack of approved drugs and vaccines for the disease.
The lack of treatment signals the failure of African governments to invest in drug research and development for diseases affecting their population.
“Research is still going on to find the definitive cure [and vaccine] for EVD. But monoclonal antibody is being used and then plasma from those who have recovered from Ebola. If you take the blood from a recovered patient, you can get a helpful extract,” Dr Ataro said.
Mr Emmanuel Ainebyoona, the spokesperson of the Health Ministry, said four people have recovered from Ebola of the 43 confirmed cases.
According to the experts, because of related complications, once the person is infected, doctors should tackle the symptoms and conditions that may arise.
Dr Henry Mwebesa, the Director General of Health Services at the Health ministry, said the only way to minimise death is to report to hospital early.
Dr Joseph Okware, the director of health governance and regulation at the ministry, said home remedies can not save a patient from Ebola.
“You must go to the nearest health facility for proper management and treatment if you or someone you suspected has Ebola signs and symptoms,” he said. He was dispelling claims that a mix of ginger, honey, garlic, onion and vinegar can cure Ebola.
Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, the Health minister, also warned people against linking Ebola to witchcraft, saying the virus is real and it kills.
Recently, there have been reports of suspected cases and patients running away from isolation facilities partly because some do not believe the disease exists or they link it to witchcraft.
Dr Ataro said the patient may die because they have vomited and lost fluids or the organ systems are disrupted.
“Bleeding can cause anaemia, which is a lack of blood in the body which impairs the body’s ability to fight diseases,” Dr Ataro said.
He added: “...If blood starts flowing, it will just continue flowing and this will lead to death because of loss of blood. Ebola also comes with very high fever which affects the body’s immune system and the ability to fight diseases.”