The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control says the overall risk of an outbreak of Ebola in Uganda reaching Nigeria is low, citing no direct flights and trade routes between both countries.
But it has put Nigeria on “alert mode,” the centre says.
It came after NCDC and the World Health Organisation assessed the risk of the outbreak in Uganda reaching Nigeria.
“Outbreaks of EVD are known to bear risk of international spread hence the rationale for continual evaluation of Nigeria’s potential risk amidst regional trade and flight route within the region,” Joshua Obasanya, NCDC’s director for prevention and programmes coordination says.
“Based on available data, the overall risk of importation of EVD to Nigeria remains low. This is also in line with WHO’s risk assessment for Nigeria. There are no direct commercial flights and no known direct trade routes to Nigeria from Uganda.
“The current transmission pathway of the disease in Uganda is through unmanned land borders and further away from the capitals of both Uganda and Nigeria.”
In the 2014 outbreak of Ebola, the virus was introduced into Nigeria after an infected man, Patrick Sawyer, boarded a flight from Liberia and landed in Lagos.
He died in hospital, but up to 20 people were infected and 11 died across the country.
Uganda’s health ministry confirmed the current outbreak on June 11 in Kasese district, on the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The first infection was found in a five-year-old boy who fell ill after visiting an area across the border in Congo to attend the burial of his grandfather.
The grandfather was confirmed to have died from Ebola on June 1.
A day after Uganda’s health ministry officially announced an outbreak, Uganda’s Virus Research Institute recorded three cases of Ebola infection and one person dead.
A total of eight persons likely to have been in contact with the dead have been identified and are being monitored.
On June 14, authorities began “ring vaccination” of contacts and frontline health workers considered to be high risk.
In the wake of the outbreak, the “emergency operations centre” at the NCDC is “functional and currently in alert mode” for Ebola, said Obasanya.
“Our team of national first responders are on standby and ready for deployment within 24 hours when the need arises.
Public health emergency operations centres in Lagos, Kano, Abuja and Port Harcourt—all with major points of entry—are “also on standby”, Obasanya said.
“We have improved point-of-entry screenings in major airports; the Port Health Services unit of the Federal Ministry of Health is on alert and has heightened screening measures at entry points at our ports.
“In addition to the above, designated treatment centres and isolation facilities have been identified. Nigeria currently has in-country capacity for the diagnosis of EVD within NCDC’s National Reference Laboratories.”
What to know about Ebola
It is a haemorrhagic fever caused by the Ebola virus. Haemorrhagic implies it causes bleeding from body openings.
The virus can be transmitted via direct contact with bodily fluids of a person who is sick with or has died from Ebola.
The virus can enter the body stream through broken skin or mucous membranes in the eyes, nose, or mouth and can also be spread through contact with objects contaminated by infected persons as well as direct contact with the blood, body fluids and tissues of infected fruit bats or primates.
To prevent the spread of Ebola, the NCDC advises members of the public to adhere to the following precautions:
Wash your hands frequently using soap and water – use hand sanitizers when soap and water is not readily available
Avoid direct handling of dead wild animals
Avoid physical contact with anyone who has possible symptoms of an infection with an unknown diagnosis
Make sure fruit and vegetables are properly washed and peeled before you eat them
Health care workers are advised to ensure universal precautions at all times. This includes the use of personal protective equipment always when handling patients.