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Health ministry issues Ebola warning for entertainers, others

Friday, August 22, 2014    

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ENTERTAINERS and other Jamaicans are being warned against travelling to the Ebola-affected areas of Liberia, Nigeria, Guinea and Sierra Leone in West Africa.

The warning has come from Health Minister Dr Fenton Ferguson, who said people should avoid travel to the affected areas "unless it is absolutely necessary to limit the spread" of the deadly disease.

"Entertainers and others who plan to travel to the affected areas of West Africa should reconsider as they would potentially be putting themselves at risk of contracting the Ebola virus and spreading it to other persons on their return to Jamaica. The ministry continues to warn against non-essential travel to reduce the risk to their health and the health of their families," Dr Ferguson said.

"Persons who have to travel to these areas are advised not to handle dead animals and not to have any direct contact with persons who may be infected or could have been in a contact with an infected person," the minister said.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) on August 8 declared Ebola a public health emergency of international concern.

Ebola is a severe, often fatal illness with a death rate of up to 90 per cent. It is transmitted through direct contact with blood (for example, through broken skin), other bodily fluids or secretion such as stool, saliva, urine and semen of infected persons. Infection can also occur if broken skin comes in contact with environments that have become contaminated with an Ebola patient's infectious fluids such as soiled clothing, bed linen or used needles. The Ebola virus remains in the semen of men who were infected for up to seven weeks after recovery.

According to the health ministry, symptoms of Ebola include sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. This may be followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function and in some cases both internal and external bleeding. The incubation period for the virus is anywhere from two to 21 days.

Up to yesterday, the virus — whose outbreak began in Guinea last December — had killed 1,350 people in the western African countries and sickened more than 2,400.

The ministry said travellers who experience symptoms of the virus after they arrive in Jamaica should go to the nearest health centre or hospital.

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