Tuesday, 8 July 2014

A/Prof Allen Cheng speaks to ABC News about the Ebola outbreak in West Africa

Health workers administer blood tests
 for the ebola virus in
 Sierra Leone. 
Photo: Reuters
With the number of deaths rising to 467 in the last week, the Ebola outbreak in West Africa is being considered as the worst of its kind by the World Health Organisation. The disease is currently affecting Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, however there are fears that it could spread to neighbouring areas.

The virus is particularly dangerous because there is no vaccination or cure for the symptoms which lead to haemorrhagic fever. This causes muscle pain, weakness, vomiting, diarrhoea and in severe cases, organ failure and unstoppable bleeding.

While WHO has sent in 150 experts to help deal with the epidemic, there is still a large risk of the spread of infection among people. Liberian Deputy Health Minister Bernice Dahn told the London Telegraph that it can be difficult to stop the spread of infection when people are distrustful of healthcare officials.

"In Liberia, our biggest challenge is denial, fear and panic. People are afraid but do not believe that the disease exists and, because of that, people get sick and the community members hide them and bury them."

DEPM's Associate Professor Allen Cheng, has recently been involved in the development of clinical guidelines for the care of patients in district hospitals with WHO, which features a section about caring for patients with Ebola. The manual is written for clinicians working at the district hospital who diagnose and manage sick adolescents and adults in resource constrained settings. It aims to support clinical reasoning, and to provide an effective clinical approach and protocols for the management of common and serious or potentially life-threatening conditions at district hospitals.

A/Prof Cheng previously wrote an article explaining the Ebola virus which can be viewed here

A/Prof Cheng speaks with ABC News about the outbreak

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