From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

COMMENTS & OPINIONS
A Nightmare might be unfolding in Mano River Basin
By Dr. Sylvia O. Blyden (First Published July 14th 2015)
Aug 31, 2015, 12:00

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 basically 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 starts manifesting 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 case 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.

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 & ending Ebola. The alternative is too fearful to imagine.



© Copyright 2005, Freetown, Sierra Leone.