Nigeria might have jumped the gun on Ebola eradication
from OKORO CHINEDU in Lagos, Nigeria
LAGOS – THE World Health Organisation (WHO) expressed skepticism Nigeria has eliminated the deadly Ebola virus.
The United Nations agency also queried similar “success” in Senegal regarding the eradication of what has been the worst outbreak of the disease in years.
“Are the Ebola outbreaks in Nigeria and Senegal over?” quipped Who in a rhetorical question.
“Not quite yet,” the agency answered.
Added the agency in a statement filled with empirical input, “If the active surveillance for new cases that is currently in place continues, and no new cases are detected, WHO will declare the end of the outbreak of Ebola virus disease in Senegal on Friday 17 October.
“Likewise, Nigeria is expected to have passed through the requisite 42 days, with active surveillance for new cases in place and none detected, on Monday 20 October. For Nigeria, WHO confirms that tracing of people known to have contact with an Ebola patient reached 100 percent in Lagos and 98 percent in Port Harcourt.
“In a piece of world-class epidemiological detective work, all confirmed cases in Nigeria were eventually linked back to the Liberian air traveller who introduced the virus into the country on 20 July.”
WHO said its anticipated declaration that the outbreaks in these two countries were over would give the world some welcome news in an epidemic that elsewhere remains out of control in three other West African nations, namely Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.
“New cases continue to explode in areas that looked like they were coming under control. An unusual characteristic of this epidemic is a persistent cyclical pattern of gradual dips in the number of new cases, followed by sudden flare-ups.
“WHO epidemiologists see no signs that the outbreaks in any of these three countries are coming under control,” WHO stated.
WHO explained how an Ebola outbreak would be declared eliminated.
A WHO subcommittee on surveillance, epidemiology, and laboratory testing is responsible for establishing the date of the end of an Ebola outbreak.
The date is fixed according to rigorous epidemiological criteria that include the date when the last case with a high-risk exposure completes 21 days of close medical monitoring and tests negative for the virus.
According to WHO recommendations, health care workers who have attended patients or cleaned their rooms should be considered as “close contacts” and monitored for 21 days after the last exposure, even if their contact with a patient occurred when they were fully protected by wearing personal protective equipment.
For health care workers, the date of the “last infectious contact” is the day when the last patient in a health facility tests negative using a real-time reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test.
For WHO to declare an Ebola outbreak over, a country must pass through 42 days, with active surveillance demonstrably in place, supported by good diagnostic capacity, and with no new cases detected. Active surveillance is essential to detect chains of transmission that might otherwise remain hidden.
Recent studies conducted in West Africa have demonstrated that 95 percent of confirmed cases had an incubation period in the range of 1 to 21 days. A total of 98 percent have an incubation period that falls within the 1 to 42 day interval.
“The announcement that the outbreaks are over, in line with the dates fixed by the subcommittee on surveillance, epidemiology, and laboratory testing, is made by the governments of the affected countries in close collaboration with WHO and its international partners,” WHO stated.
Nigeria has n recent weeks claimed “success” in halting the Ebola scourge, which however claimed the lives of several victims.
– CAJ News
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