Ebola is a virus, first reported in the Democratic Republic of Congo 1976. It is thought to live in fruit bats, spread to humans through contact with sick animals. It is highly infectious, the disease is passed from person to person through bodily fluids – saliva, sweat, blood & semen. It is a haemorrhagic fever. The current outbreak started in southern Guinea, spread into Liberia and then to Sierra Leone.
Symptoms, which become increasingly severe, developing between 2 – 21 days:
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Fever / Headache
- Joint & muscle pain
- Diarrhoea (may be bloody) Red eyes.
- Raised rash.
- Chest pain and cough.
- Stomach pain.
- Severe weight loss.
- Bleeding, usually from the eyes, and bruising (people near death may bleed from other orifices, such as ears, nose and rectum)
Some of the above symptoms, particularly fever & vomiting, can also herald a repeat bout of malaria, which is endemic, thus delaying reporting to health care centres for fear of the illnesses being mixed up.
At present there is no widely accepted or available vaccine against Ebola, no cure, with a 90% mortality rate from this Zaire strain. Early intervention with good medical care can help some patients develop anti-bodies to fight the disease, reducing the mortality rate by 10 – 15 %.
Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders), have been extremely active in the frontline care and treatment of this disease. However, a constantly travelling population, poor understanding of basic health hygiene, paucity of access to health provision, cultural burial procedures, a hot climate plus a fear and mistrust of health officialdom have led to an unprecedented Ebola crisis in west Africa.
All schools are closed for the foreseeable future. A recent radio announcement from the Department of Education in Bo is suggesting schools will not open until January 2015, this has since been revised to Monday 30th March at the earliest.
We are naturally supporting and paying our workforce during this prolonged shutdown. The teachers are able to meet at the school. They are busily preparing schemes of work and taking advantage of the opportunity to have departmental meetings. It is hoped they’ll be able to prepare banks of test papers and explore ideas for future development. One topic on the agenda is sorting the school library and classifying classroom reading books, with a view to including ‘reading’ as a daily subject on the new timetable.
We are most fortunate that the school environment and Bo in general appears to be a low risk area. We sincerely hope all our staff and pupils remain safe. Once school reconvenes there will be new health measures to be observed. We’ll have to invest in hand washing and disinfectant facilities for the pupils as they enter the premises. There will no doubt be a list of regulations issued from their Ministry of Health & Sanitation for all schools to follow.
British Airways (Heathrow) & Gambia Bird (Gatwick) are unable to fly direct to Lungi, Freetown. Media reports would suggest that aid agencies are not hopeful of getting the virus under control until December / Christmas or even early 2015.
We fervently hope we’ll be able to visit in May. For now communication is restricted to regular phone calls and email
[button align_button=” a_fffect=” delay=” link=’https://www.oaks-sl.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/SDevelop-In14102911340-1.pdf’ background=’#00d100′ color=’#755400′ hover_bg_color=” hover_border=” hover_text_icon_color=”]Layout Of A Treatment Centre – Medecins Sans Frontieres [/button]