One year after Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) sneaked into Nigeria from Sierra Leone, and was properly dealt with, rumors have it that the dreaded virus is back into the country. However, on Friday 9th October 2015, the Federal Government dispelled speculations of a suspected fresh case of Ebola in Calabar, Cross River, and urged Nigerians to observe good hygiene behaviour.
Ebola virus disease, which is caused by the Ebola virus, starts showing signs and symptoms of its existence between two days and three weeks after contracting the virus. It starts with a fever, sore throat, muscular pain, and headaches. Then, vomiting, diarrhea and rash follows, along with decreased function of the liver and kidneys and finally death if not properly treated. These were the symptoms experienced by the deceased patient in the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, that raised the alarm about the return of Ebola in Nigeria.
Mr Linus Awute, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, allayed public fear of the rumor while briefing newsmen in Abuja. He said the rumors started on Wednesday 9th October 2015, until government agencies were able to come up with a conclusive investigation on the case. He also said the ministry monitored the latest speculation and found out that it was a case of the death of a 21-year-old student of the University of Calabar.
The deceased patient was brought into the causality ward of University of Calabar Teaching Hospital (UCTH) by the mother and other family members on 7th October 2015. Awute said the deceased was admitted at about 1 A.M. in the morning and was investigated clinically and tested in the laboratory to determine his ailment. “He was admitted with bleeding, diarrhea, vomiting, skin rashes and mouth lesions. His temperature on admission was 37 degrees centigrade and vital signs were stable.
“The parents said that the patient had never traveled out of Calabar, on the basis of signs and symptoms; a tentative diagnosis of viral Hemorrhagic fever to rule out Lassa fever was made. Some of his family members had a history of chicken pox a week to his falling ill,” the permanent secretary said. Awute said that the deceased was treated with antipyretics and antibiotics during the course of his illness and he also received intravenous fluids.
Sadly, at exactly 8.15 p.m., seven hours after he was admitted, the patient passed on.
According to Mr Linus Awute, 15 health workers and 8 patients who had direct or indirect contact with the deceased patient were quarantined. He added that other hospital workers were provided with thermometers to monitor their temperature twice daily. The permanent secretary said that blood sample collected from the patient was taken to Irrua Lassa Fever Specialist Hospital for laboratory confirmation of the cause of the disease.
Tests were run on the blood sample throughout the night and the result confirmed that the deceased was negative for both Ebola and Lassa fever viral diseases. Additional tests using next generation sequencing methods are currently being carried out at the Redeemers University African Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases, Ede, Osun state.
“This is to confirm which virus must have caused the infection and death and the result is expected on Monday October 12, 2015,” he said. Awute urged Nigerians to collaborate with the federal ministry of health and the entire healthcare teams to report any suspected case to avoid reintroduction of Ebola into the country. Finally, he said this incidence has once again demonstrated that the fight against Ebola must be a perfect team work based on effective collaboration between government and other stakeholders.