*PLEASE BE WARNED: DISTURBING IMAGES (we do this not for sensationalism, but so people have a accurate picture of the danger of the situation)*
Earlier this year, a virus known as Ebola took root in rural communities across West Africa… In subsequent months, the virus has spread across the entirety of Western Africa below the Sahara, with over 2000 dead, and many more feared, in the sense that their deaths are not reported.
Liberia, Sierra-Leone, Guinea and to a lesser extent at the moment Nigeria are currently at the nexus of the crisis, but cases are popping up across the continent…. These countries have introduced strict quarantine measures and air travel from and too the affected states has been severely restricted.
The virus is very dangerous, killing over 60 percent of its victims.
Today Nick chats with Jantjie Taljaard:
Dr Jantjie Taljaard completed his undergraduate training at the University of Pretoria in 1991. After qualifying as Specialist Physician [MMed (Internal Medicine)] at the University of Stellenbosch in 2001 he obtained a Diploma in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene from WITS in 2002.
He is currently head of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Tygerberg Academic Hospital and the University of Stellenbosch. Special interests include TB infection control, HIV associated cancers, malaria, viral haemorrhagic fever and antibiotic stewardship. He lives in Paarl with his wife Laurinda and 9 year old daughter Joanie.
The main points covered are:
- Ebola haemorrhagic fever is a disease caused by one of five different Ebola viruses. Four of the strains can cause severe illness in humans and animals. The fifth, Reston virus, has caused illness in some animals, but not in humans.
- The first human outbreaks occurred in 1976
- Symptoms include: weakness, fever, aches, diarrhoea, vomiting and stomach pain. Additional experiences include rash, red eyes, chest pain, throat soreness, difficulty breathing or swallowing and bleeding (including internal).
- African countries reported cases (so far):
Guinea – 771 cases, 494 deaths
Liberia – 1698 cases, 871 deaths
Nigeria – 21 cases, 7 deaths
Senegal – 1 case, no deaths
Sierra Leone – 1216 cases, 476 deaths
…And of course some people react with wild fear, which is understandable, though ill-advised:
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