From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

Ebola Beyond Sierra Leone: A Nightmare might be unfolding in Mano River Basin
By Dr. Sylvia O. Blyden [BSc. (Hons), MB.Ch.B]
Jul 14, 2015, 17:04

If anyone thinks the Ebola Outbreak in Mano River basin is something that is a trifle, please let me confidently state to them that the ongoing disaster is far from being something to put on back-burner. This is a time for all residents therein to unite and step-up our guard!

The World Health Organisation (WHO) Spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic has now officially informed journalists on what many had suspected was the fearful realisation that the new outbreak of Ebola in Liberia with an index case of a 17 years old schoolboy, was not really ‘new’ after all. The outbreak never really ended in Liberia.

WHO Spokesman has now confirmed that genetic studies of the virus in the ‘latest’ outbreak in Liberia is identical to the one that used to kill in Liberia few months back and which is the same virus that continues to kill in both Sierra Leone and Guinea.

However, none (I repeat, NONE) of the Liberians now with new Ebola infection in Liberia ever travelled to Sierra Leone or Guinea. It means the virus has been right inside Liberia quietly all this time.

The WHO Spokesman is now saying the infection of the 17 years old boy was likely acquired from a ‘non-identified transmission within the community’ or from ‘a survivor still carrying the infection in other body fluids long after the blood tested negative for the virus’.

There is also an other possibility (so fearful to contemplate) that the virus has now modified itself so much so that it can delay the onset of symptoms in those it infects.

What do I mean by ‘delay the onset of symptoms’? Let me explain. Viruses can exist for stated periods in humans before they start manifesting sickness in the infected human. For example, the HIV virus can exist for years in a person before it causes the manifestation of clinical signs of HIV-AIDS.

Now, prior to this Outbreak, Ebola was known to manifest symptoms within 2 to 21 days of infection. This particular MRU outbreak had an average of 9 days between infection and symptoms.

So, if, as is now suspected to be scenario for ‘new index case’ of a teenage boy in Liberia, this MRU Ebola virus is now with the ability to exist for more than 21 days in a human before it manifests symptoms of Ebola sickness, then I can easily say we have a major situation on our hands in the MRU basin.

Add to this, the huge number of survivors living in MRU basin as possible carriers of the dreadful Ebola virus in body fluids like male semen or in placenta of foetus in wombs, we might have a serious nightmare unfolding in the Mano River Union basin.

Honestly, this is the time to rally around our various leaderships and do whatever we can to give undiluted support to the three Presidents. In Sierra Leone, the country is still under a State of Emergency that was declared by President Koroma NOT to deliberately subdue our political discourse but to subdue Ebola.

Let us put aside Politics for a while and re-focus our attention on combating Ebola. The alternative to ending the Ebola Outbreak in MRU basin is too fearsome to contemplate.... Too fearful to imagine.

SPECIAL NOTE: The author is a trained medical doctor with an amazing versatility that makes her hold her own in many disciplines. Also a major Publisher and news journalist, Doctor Sylvia Blyden is a politician who has worked for the Sierra Leone Government as the first, and so far the only woman, to be ever appointed with Cabinet Rank to the Office of the President when she served as the Special Executive Assistant (SEA) to President Koroma for a period of two years. She gracefully resigned her position in October 2014. Doctor Sylvia Blyden, a member of the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC) of Sierra Leone, remains to be one of the most trusted allies of the Sierra Leone President and she was part of his presidential delegation to the UN High level Ebola Recovery Summit held from July 9th to 10th in New York during which two days period, she served as an Adviser to His Excellency the President. As far as the current Ebola Outbreak is concerned, Dr. Blyden is noted as the very first Sierra Leonean to raise an alarm in May 2014 over unexplained strange deaths in Kissi chiefdoms of Eastern Sierra Leone; the deaths turned out to be from Ebola – just as she had expressed suspicion. To date, the good Doctor has continued to be an irrepressible voice in the fight against Ebola.

© Copyright 2005, Freetown, Sierra Leone.