The National Institute of Virology (NIV) has till Friday received seven samples of suspected Ebola virus disease — from Delhi, Mumbai and Pune. All have tested negative, the latest case being an 18-year-old Nigerian student of UWC Mahindra College in Pune, who was admitted to Naidu hospital on Thursday as a precautionary measure. “The test was negative for Ebola virus disease,” said an NIV official.
Officials at Naidu Infectious Diseases Hospital said the student was suffering from gastroentritis but some of the symptoms were similar to that of Ebola virus disease. “The student’s sample was taken and he was admitted to hospital,” said Dr S T Pardeshi, acting chief medical officer, PMC.
Pelham Lindfield Roberts, head of the UWC Mahindra College — a residential institute offering International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma — said in a statement said students who had returned from West African countries were being monitored three times daily by the college doctor and they sleep in separate single accommodation to cover the 21-day maximum incubation period. “When one of the students reported flu-like symptoms on August 28, it was immediately reported to the state health authorities. The college cooperated in all respects with the health authorities and confirms that the student got clean blood tests and tested negative for the Ebola virus,”Roberts said in the statement.
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Symptoms related to Ebola range from onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat, This is followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding.
A total of 184 passengers who have travelled to West African countries such as Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone have been screened of whom 45 have returned to Pune and are kept under observation for 21 days — from the time they travelled from West African countries.
The incubation period, or the time interval from infection to onset of symptoms, is from two-21 days, explained state surveillance officer Dr Pradip Awate. Dr H H Chavan deputy director, (Pune circle) said a special health team was monitoring the situation daily. Calls are made twice a day to those under observation at home,” he added.
‘Images of people in protective clothing could heighten panic’
GLOVES and waterproof smocks, goggles, masks, and individual rooms or wards in the hospital) are sufficient to manage most patients (who do not experience haemorrhage or vomiting. Goggles and masks might not even be necessary to speak with conscious patients, as long as a distance of one-two metres is maintained.
Respiratory infection control measures — which have been adopted by most health agencies to deal with the Ebola epidemic in West Africa — are unnecessary, and may ‘heighten panic and fear’ among the public, according to the authors of a letter, published in The Lancet on August 28, and written by Prof Jose M Martin-Moreno from the University of Valencia in Spain, Ebola virus is primarily transmitted through contact with infected patients’ blood, vomit, faeces and other secretions, both direct and indirect, from contaminated needles and other materials.
This usually occurs via close family contact or in healthcare settings and the virus is rarely transmissible via airborne routes. Images of workers in protective clothing may contribute to the panic. If this prompts people to flee affected areas it could increase the spread of infection, the authors have said, calling for rational and efficient use of protective equipment in West Africa.