By Abbas Aminu Bamalli
The Federal Government has raised an alert that the Ebola virus, which has caused the death of scores of people in Central and West Africa, may be heading towards Nigeria.
Speaking to journalists after the weekly meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC), yesterday, the Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, however, said no case of the disease has been reported yet in the country.
Prof. Chukwu said the Federal Government will now do more to educate Nigerians on the Ebola virus, adding that “We have recently said that in addition to the leaflets that we are producing for Lassa and other hemorrhagic fever, we will now emphasis Ebola fever.
“Like you pointed out, Ebola has been moving eastward towards Nigeria. We are already facing danger from Central African Republic, even with what is happening in Congo; people who are also migrating to Chad and Cameroon are also in our borders”, he said.
Mr. Chukwu explained that both Ebola and Lassa fever could be spread through animals.
According to the Minister there is no vaccine for the disease yet and “so it’s not a matter of saying government has not produced vaccines for Ebola or Lassa fever, saying, “If there were vaccines, government will certainly buy and stock. There is no specific treatment.”
“We know what spreads infection for Lassa is a special type of rat in Nigeria; the ones for Ebola are bats that even some Nigerians see it as bush meat, adding that, and bats eat fruits as well and so sometimes if you go and pluck fruits that they have contaminated with the virus you can get infected”, Prof. Chukwu stated.
He advised that, “So all the things we said still apply. Personal hygiene: make sure that after every ceremony you wash your hands”.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) said, on Tuesday, it expects the disease to continue in West Africa for the next few months. Recent reports show that over 100 people died from the disease in Guinea, while about 10 deaths have also been recorded in Liberia, Mali, Ghana and other West African countries.