News / Africa

Nigeria Monitors 400 Contacts of Doctor Killed by Ebola

A man washes his hands at a tap outside the Green Pharmacy, Area 8, in Abuja, Sept. 1, 2014.A man washes his hands at a tap outside the Green Pharmacy, Area 8, in Abuja, Sept. 1, 2014.
x
A man washes his hands at a tap outside the Green Pharmacy, Area 8, in Abuja, Sept. 1, 2014.
A man washes his hands at a tap outside the Green Pharmacy, Area 8, in Abuja, Sept. 1, 2014.
Reuters

Nigerian authorities are monitoring nearly 400 people for signs of Ebola after they came in contact with a Port Harcourt doctor who died of the disease but hid the fact that he had been exposed, a senior Nigerian health official said Thursday.

Dr. Abdulsalami Nasidi, project director at the Nigeria Center for Disease Control, said a lack of proven drugs or vaccines to treat Ebola has fostered a sense of "hopelessness." At least 18 people have been infected in the country, whose 174 million people make this Africa's most populous nation.

In an interview with Reuters in Geneva, Nasadi said more isolation wards were being opened in the oil industry hub, but he voiced confidence there would not be "many cases" there.

The Port Harcourt doctor, identified by local authorities as Iyke Enemuo, came in contact with an Ebola patient and continued treating others before his own Aug. 22 death. He also met scores of friends, relatives and medics, leaving about 60 people at high risk of infection, the World Health Organisation said Wednesday.

Others infected

The doctor's wife, also a physician, along with a patient in the same hospital have been infected with Ebola, the WHO said.

"He violated our public health laws," Nasidi said, "by treating a patient with a highly pathogenic agent who revealed to him that he had contact with Ebola and didn't want to be treated in Lagos because he might be put in isolation."

Enemuo treated the patient "in secrecy outside hospital premises," Nasidi said. And when the doctor fell ill, "he did not reveal to his colleagues that he had contact with someone who contracted Ebola. He was taken to General Hospital, a private hospital that sees everybody.

"That is the only case that effectively escaped our surveillance network. We are paying now for it," Nasidi said.

He spoke on the sidelines of a two-day WHO experts meeting aimed at speeding development of Ebola drugs and vaccines.

The deadly virus can be spread by direct contact with body fluids and secretions of an infected person or during traditional burial rituals, the WHO said.

The latest outbreak has spread from Guinea to Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Senegal. With its death toll at more than 1,900 people as of Wednesday, the outbreak has killed more people than all outbreaks since Ebola's discovery in 1976.

"People are living in a state of hopelessness seeing the disease has no cure and no vaccine but has great potential to spread," Nasidi said.

380 'contacts in our dragnet'

Nasidi said the Port Harcourt doctor was visited by friends and family in hospital, including some who "laid hands" on him.

"We have more than 380 of such contacts in our dragnet," he said. Those at high risk are being quarantined, and some 500 volunteers and health care workers are checking on all exposed people twice a day.

A 28-bed isolation ward for Ebola patients has opened in the city, which is home to many expatriate workers in major international oil companies.

Authorities did not forecast many more cases, and Nasidi said he was "hopeful."

He said the exposed contacts were being monitored, and most were near the end of the 21-incubation period. The disease starts with fever and muscle pain, followed by vomiting and diarrhea. 

"A contact who has no symptoms doesn't transmit even if he has the virus," Nasidi said. "So this is why we are hopeful."

Supplies and vaccines needed

The United Nations said on Wednesday that $600 million in supplies would be needed to fight West Africa's Ebola outbreak.

"We must fight Ebola because there is huge anxiety for our populations along with significant social and economic consequences," Younoussa Ballo, secretary-general of Guinea's health ministry, told Reuters at Thursday's talks. "Research must be speeded up to have medicines to confront this epidemic."

Human safety trials are expected to begin this week on a vaccine from GlaxoSmithKline Plc and later this year on one from NewLink Genetics Corp. Johnson & Johnson said on Thursday that clinical trials of its vaccine would commence in early 2015, accelerated from late 2015 or early 2016.

NewLink founder Charles Link told Reuters in Geneva: "The clinical trials do take some time. Everybody is trying as hard and furiously as possible to move those trials forward as rapidly as possible with the regulations, scientific and ethical constraints.

"Just because we have the drugs, we haven't shown anything about their effectiveness so we have to do these initial studies before it would be appropriate to release them on any kind of broader scale," he said.

"So that is really what our group is here for and a number of other groups like ours, is to try to coordinate those activities to do things at speeds that haven't be done before."

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said this week a federal contract worth up to $42.3 million would help accelerate testing of an experimental Ebola virus treatment being developed by privately held Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc.

You May Like

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost-Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More