Ivory Coast on high alert for potential Ebola outbreak

Thursday 31 July 2014 17.23
The highly infectious deadly disease has claimed over 600 lives in West Africa so far
The highly infectious deadly disease has claimed over 600 lives in West Africa so far

Doctors in Ivory Coast say all measures are being taken to avoid Ebola spreading from neighbouring Liberia and Guinea, as the region struggles to control a deadly virus outbreak. 

The highly infectious deadly disease has claimed more than 720 lives in West Africa so far, and Ivory Coast worries that cross-border travel may bring the disease there too.

The head of the country's Infectious Disease Surveillance Centre said authorities were making every effort to prevent the infection from reaching the country.

Meanwhile, the Health Service Executive said there are plans in place in Ireland should a case of the deadly Ebola virus present here.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Dr Darina O'Flanagan, HSE Director of the Health Protection Surveillance Centre, said it was important to say that while it was a very dangerous disease, it was not highly infectious.

She said because it was such a serious disease there were plans in place to deal with an outbreak.

"Protocols and guidance documents have been prepared and they have been sent through the system to General Practitioners, to emergency departments, to infectious disease consultants, microbiologists and the ambulance service.

"And the port health committee has been in touch with colleagues in ports and the port health environmental health officers also have information on the signs and symptoms of viral haemorrhagic disease."

As of today, 729 deaths had been blamed on Ebola in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, according to World Health Organisation figures.

Liberia has announced drastic measures to deal with the disease.

Liberia's President yesterday announced the quarantine of a number of communities and the closure of schools across the country, the toughest measures yet imposed by a West African government in a bid to halt the worst Ebola outbreak on record.

Ivory Coast says it has put everything in place to be able to deal with a potential outbreak, starting with communication and awareness campaigns on the border, as well as information campaigns.

Liberia accounted for just under one-fifth of deaths from the disease.

Although the disease was initially said to have spread through the consumption of bush meat, most of the danger now comes through border posts, as people move between countries.

The contagious disease, which has no known cure, has symptoms that include vomiting, diarrhoea and internal and external bleeding.

The fatality rate of the current outbreak is around 60% although Ebola can kill up to 90% of those who catch it.

Weak health systems are struggling to contain the disease despite international help ranging from doctors to safety equipment.

Guinea, where the outbreak originated, has seen new cases in the capital Conakry and in the eastern mining town of Siguiri, where a new isolation ward has opened.

In both areas, the infection spread through contact with visitors from Sierra Leone, according to Aboubacar Sidiki Diakite, who leads Guinea's efforts to stop the outbreak.

In neighbouring Liberia, the national football authority suspended matches nationwide, a spokesman said.

While the WHO has stopped short of recommending travel restrictions, the Togolese airline Asky has suspended flights to and from Sierra Leone and Liberia as concern over the spread of the virus has increased since the first death was reported last week in Nigeria's coastal city of Lagos, home to 21 million people.

Keywords: ebola