With the recent certification and discharge of some Nigerians who had contracted Ebola Virus Disease, it is now clear that EVD is not a death sentence after all
| By Chinwe Okafor | Sep. 1, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT
DESPITE the cheering news that some quarantined victims of the Ebola Virus Disease, EVD, have been certified free of the virus by the federal government, the Lagos state government says there is yet no cause for celebration. According to it, five new cases of the deadly disease have been discovered in the state. Jide Idris, state commissioner for health, said “there are five new cases of the EVD presently in the state. Two of the fresh cases are secondary contacts and the remaining three are primary contacts with the late Liberian who imported the disease into Nigeria.”
According to him, the fresh suspected cases have increased the number of patients in isolation wards from two to six and that Nigeria has 12 confirmed cases on the whole, out of which five have died including Ameyo Stella Adadevoh, a medical doctor at the First Consultants Medical Centre, Obalende, Lagos, who was the first Nigerian to contract the deadly virus from the Liberian who imported the virus into the country. He said that five patients of the disease had been discharged while 213 contacts were being followed up and 62 contacts had been released after completing the 21-day follow-up.
In continuation of the search for a possible cure for EVD, the Lagos State government has been exploring several options among which is the collection and examination of antibodies from the blood of the Ebola survivors. Idris said: “We are exploring the possibilities of collecting and examining the antibodies possessed by the patients for possible prospects of a cure. The patients were admitted into the isolation centre based on the result of tests conducted on them. But after some treatment, they survived the virus, and the test conducted on them again showed negative.” He said the survivors were treated based on their symptoms, but explained the need for more virologists in the fight against the deadly virus because EVD patients are not like other patients.
“The activities within the isolation centre are very crucial, and one has to understand the protocol even if he or she has the expertise in managing the patients. For Ebola cases, there is a specific training one has to go through, and one of the measures is that the safety of the people must be considered paramount. This is because the slightest mistake from any of the health officials can cause infection.”
Idris noted that four patients who had survived the virus had been discharged from isolation by the combined federal and state government teams and their international partners adding that a female doctor had been discharged after surviving the virus, thus bringing the number of survivors of Ebola in the country to five while three other patients yet to scale the hurdle have been moved to the 40- bed capacity isolation centre in the hospital.
On the death of Stella Shade Ameyo Adadevoh, the senior consultant/endocrinologist, of First Consultant Hospital, Obalende, Idris said ironically “she took the initiative to intimate the ministry concerning the index case and substantially to her credit, the moderate containment achieved, we owe to her and her colleagues.”
The federal government is not relenting in its efforts to contain further spread of the virus in the country. Onyebuchi Chukwu, minister of health said, President Goodluck Jonathan had approved the immediate release of N200million to the Lagos State Government as Federal Government’s direct support in the efforts to contain the spread of the EVD adding that he had also written to a Canadian firm to see whether it could extend another trial drug, TKM Ebola, to Nigeria.
He said that any drug received would be made to pass through the nation’s Health Ethics Committee before it could be administered on any patient. “Presently, we have not stopped requesting for drugs, I have requested from a company in Canada and a lot of Nigerians including Nigeria’s High Commissioner to Canada are making that request to see whether the other drug being manufactured in Canada called TKM Ebola would also be extended to Nigeria.
“Even ZMapp has now become Case One Clinical Trial; it has not been subjected to clinical trial. That they are using it to treat patients in the US and Liberia is part of the clinical trial. Even at that, nothing is yet clear even though it is a fact that two medical doctors are getting better. In Nigeria, the five patients who were treated and got discharged were never given ZMapp. It tells you something. Let’s cooperate and work together, we will surely get there.”
According to him, the United States will donate 30 body scanners to the Federal Government as its contribution to fighting the virus. Meanwhile, David Nabarro, a public health expert coordinating the United Nations fight against Ebola, has said he would be visiting West Africa to determine the strategies that the global body can deploy to support people, communities and governments affected by the disease.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation, WHO, has commended Nigeria’s response to the current Ebola Virus disease outbreak, noting that efforts to contain the cases in the country have paid off. The global health body said the situation looked reassuring and encouraging, noting that at present, all 12 confirmed cases were part of a single chain of transmission.
According to the WHO, those infected by the initial case included the medical staff involved in Patrick Sawyer’s treatment, a patient in the same hospital and a protocol officer who was in very close contact with the patient. The initial patient was vomiting frequently during travel and upon arrival. No one on the same flight was infected.
“The full recovery to date of one infected contact is additional good news. It counters the widespread perception that infection with the Ebola virus is invariably a death sentence. Evidence suggests that early detection and supportive therapy increase the prospects of survival. Intensive contact tracing, conducted by Nigerian health officials and staff from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has not, so far, identified any further confirmed cases outside the initial transmission chain,” said the WHO.