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Ebola Update - Oct 16th 2014

by Dr Bob Kass - October 16, 2014

NOTE: This article is an update to the article originally published as 'Australian Travellers to West Africa'

Much has changed since our first article on the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.  The case numbers have soared from a few hundred to many thousands. More than 4000 people have now died and  cases have been diagnosed in Europe and the USA. One person has died outside of West Africa in Texas.  Cases have been reported in African countries (Nigeria, Senegal) other than the primary outbreak area of Guinea, Liberia and Sierre Leone. It is very good news that potential major outbreaks have been avoided in Nigeria and Senegal and is testament to the quick action of health authorities to invoke strict infection control measures and carry out contact tracing. 

However, secondary Ebola cases in the USA and Spain after treatment offered to Ebola cases is very disturbing. Both cases demonstrate the nature of the disease and the importance of strict attention to procedures when dealing with a case of Ebola. Potential Ebola cases require expert management.

Cases will continue to be reported outside of West Africa and it is important that we are diligent in the detection and management of these cases. It is also important to understand that travellers from Africa may have health issues apart from potential Ebola. Many of the symptoms of Ebola can fit with other diseases. We must not miss a case of malaria as this canalso be fatal if treatment is delayed.

According to CDC the signs and symptoms of Ebola include:

  • Fever

  • Severe headache

  • Muscle pain

  • Weakness

  • Diarrhoea

  • Vomiting

  • Abdominal pain

  • Unexplained bleeding or bruising

These symptoms can appear at any time from 2 days to 21 days after exposure to an Ebola case. The average time is 8 to 10 days.

 

If you are unwell or become unwell after returning from an area of risk or have been exposed to some-one who has been diagnosed with Ebola, it is important that you alert by phone a health attendant as soon as possible. You should not  have contact with others until the nature of your illness is discussed.

 

A similar message (below) is being communicated in West Africa.  The only difference is our housing and excellent health system.

The following resources may be useful:  CDC recommends advance notice to a medical service should you become unwell.

http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/outbreaks/2014-west-africa/qa.html

More information can be obtained by visiting:

http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/pdf/ebola-algorithm.pdf

http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/pdf/west-africa-outbreak-infographic.pdf

http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/diseases/ebola


Author

Dr Bob Kass

Dr Bob Kass is Medical Director of Globe Medical. He holds specialist qualifications in paediatrics and public health medicine and is one of Australia's pioneers in the discipline of Travel Medicine. 

Full professional biography