Japanese Woman Suspected of Ebola in Imphal

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A 27-year-old Japanese woman, Kawakubo Yuko, was admitted to the J.N. Institute of Medical Sciences in Imphal after she was suspected of showing symptoms of being contaminated by the Ebola virus. According to news reports, she had already visited five countries before coming to India, where she wanted to head towards Nagaland. She stopped over at a hotel in Imphal, where she had arrived by road from Myanmar.

The virus that first appeared in 1976 in Africa has already claimed more than 3,300 lives as of September 25, 2014 in the recent outbreak in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. Moreover, according to the latest World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates 7,175 people have been infected by the virus in these regions.

Doctors across the globe continue to struggle for an antidote for the fatal disease. However, currently the medication involves supportive care-rehydration with oral or intravenous fluids along with treatment of the illnesses symptomatic of the virus like fever, stomach pain, headache, muscle pain, vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, kidney failure and unexplained bleeding or bruising. The virus is introduced in human beings through contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals such as chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats, monkeys, forest antelope and porcupines found ill or dead or in the rainforest. It then gets transmitted from one human being to the other through direct contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people, even in bedding and clothing contaminated with sweat and other secretions.

Blood samples of the Japanese lady have been taken to be tested at the National Institute for Virology at Pune and the patient has been shifted to an isolation room in the hospital. However, hospital sources have said that since there is no proper isolation ward in their hospital, Yuko might be shifted to the Regional Institute of Medical Sciences in case she is tested positive of the Ebola virus.

In case of an Ebola outbreak, the WHO has enumerated the following ways to control and check transmission of the disease:

  • Reducing risk of wildlife-to-human transmission by avoiding contact with infected animals and using protective clothing and gloves when dealing with them. For consumption purposes, meat should be thoroughly cooked.
  • Reducing risk of human-to-human transmission by avoiding direct to close contact with infected people, using gloves and protective clothing when taking care of patients and their utilities including bed sheets, clothes and the like; regular washing of hands every time one visits or tends to the patients.
  • Outbreak containment measures include prompt and safe burial of those who do not survive the disease, monitoring people who may have been in contact with the patient before the detection of the disease or the surfacing of the symptoms and segregating the affected from the unaffected people.

Tourists coming to Manipur by road and flight are already been screened for the disease. However, additional measures as charted out by the WHO can be followed to avoid an outbreak that might have disastrous results in a country with a humungous population with an equally high population density.

Pallavi Ghosh

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