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‘MoH must do more to teach people on Ebola virus spread’ Many lack knowledge

In this week’s Arab Times’ online poll, readers were asked about their knowledge and concern over the Ebola outbreak. The Ebola crisis in West Africa has caused great alarm and is held to be the world’s deadliest to date for which there are no licensed vaccines or treatments. According to the World Health Organization’s fact sheet, Ebola virus disease outbreaks have a case fatality rate of up to 90%.

WHO has declared it an international health emergency as over a thousand have succumbed to the virus in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria. But for people living in countries outside Africa, it remains a very low threat. Even as Kuwait remains free of the Ebola virus, the Public Health Department of the Ministry of Health announced that a number of precautionary and preventative measures had been undertaken to confront the spread of the disease which primarily involves scanning the health conditions of people coming from virus infected countries at borders.

Typically, suspected cases of Ebola would be quarantined with additional tests done to make certain the condition. A number of respondents, 12% of the total, confessed to having no knowledge of the Ebola outbreak whatsoever. Other 33% respondents shared that they had been intrigued enough to read about the symptoms. “At the first sign of a cough or a migraine, I tend to google my symptoms, just to make sure it’s not something serious. I heard about the Ebola outbreak and its flu like symptoms. I was curious to know what set it apart from a normal flu. However I think in the case of Ebola, any self diagnosis will only lead to unwarranted anxiety”, a reader stated.

Symptoms of fever greater than 38.6°C, severe headache, muscle pain, weakness, diarrhoea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and lack of appetite can appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure to the virus. Impaired kidney and liver function follow and the patient then bleeds internally, and may also bleed from the ears, eyes, nose or mouth. A majority of voters, a stark 47%, felt that the Ministry of Health needed to make more of an effort to adequately educate the public. “Forewarned is forearmed, I think the MOH needs to make information about the virus especially with regards to symptoms and prevention easily available, maybe release a supplement of relevant information in all the local newspapers.” The MOH announced earlier this month that it had distributed a circular to all its medical staff in public and private hospitals detailing the symptoms of the disease and how to deal with and report the suspected cases, hygienic and disinfection measures and health education for those who could have close contact with infected cases. It has also urged the public not to travel to affected countries.

The MOH is said to be following up the latest developments with the World Health Organization and other international medical organizations. 5% of the respondents felt that this was a non-issue, hyped up by the media. “There have been no confirmed cases here so I don’t think we should be panicking about Ebola or treating it like a pandemic.

The infection is transmitted by close and direct contact with the blood, body fluids and tissues of infected animals or people, it is not airborne like influenza or tuberculosis. So I think its spread can easily be controlled by protective measures”, a reader pointed out. “It has become very hard today to distinguish hype from a real problem these days. I think the media is focussing too much on attracting eyeballs instead of focusing on real issues”, another commented.

Lastly, a slim 3% percentage of voters expressed that life was too short to care. “Everybody is going to die of something. It is silly to worry about such variables. We should all live in the moment and live it to the fullest.”

By: Cinatra Fernandes Arab Times Staff

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