There is no need to panic but we have to be aware, says Dr Shivkumar Utture, executive council member, Maharashtra Medical Council. “Even if one affected person comes to India, it can start an epidemic since there is no vaccine and no treatment for the Ebola.”
Dr. Utture was participating in a discussion on Ebola: Is India Prepared For the Worst on BoomNews’s show #IndiaHangout with Dr. Anil Pansekar, Dean, Indian Medical Assoication Headquarters and Dr. Amar Pazare of KEM Hospital, Mumbai.
|Ebola: Dos & Dont’s
* Wash Hands Repeatedly & Stay Away From People Suffering From Fever
* Treat All Individuals Returning From West Africa As Potential Ebola Carriers
* Sanitation, Sanitation & Sanitation.
* Ebola Is Not An Airborne Disease. So Don’t Panic Unnecessarily.
* Finally, Build Immunity. That’s The Best Defence.
World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared the killer Ebola epidemic, ravaging parts of west Africa, an international health emergency and appealed for global aid to help afflicted countries.
Ebola has claimed at least 900 lives and infected more than 1,700 people since breaking out in Guinea earlier this year, according to WHO.
Ebola causes severe fever and, in the worst cases, unstoppable bleeding. It is transmitted through contact with bodily fluids, and people who live with or care for patients are most at risk.
First discovered in 1976, Ebola has killed around two-thirds of those infected, with two outbreaks registering fatality rates approaching 90%. The latest outbreak has a fatality rate of around 55%.
“Well, that’s statistics. For the medical fraternity, Ebola means near-sure death. There are only supportive treatments available,” Dr. Utture said.
The concern, Dr. Pansekar said, is that there are over 45,000 Indians working in West Africa. “Public awareness is the critical factor in controlling the epidemic. Prevention is always better than cure.”
While saying that airports are potential entry points for the disease, Dr Utture added: “Our airports, unlike those in the U.S or Europe, are not equipped to handle such crisis. Therefore, we have to treat everyone coming from West Africa as a potential carrier of Ebola. And be careful who you meet.”
Dr. Pansekar said building immunity is the only way to tackle such epidemics. “And for India, the key solution is sanitation, sanitation, sanitation,” Dr Utture said.
With an incubation period of 2-20 days, health workers have to use barrier treatment if they come in contact with such patients, Dr. Utture said. “Wash hands repeatedly and stay away from people with fever.”