Ebola: Many ‎Nigerians still ignorant of disease

Ebola patient being attended to during the last outbreak

There are people who place the cure or prevention of Ebola on faith.

Despite the obvious fatality and infectious rate of the Ebola Virus, there are still many Nigerians with little, no information or misinformation on the virus that has caused the death of over 900 people, mostly in West Africa.

The recent outbreak of the Ebola virus in West-Africa, the deadliest of six stains of the virus, has caused pandemonium worldwide causing the U.S. to break protocols and use untested drugs on two of its citizens who contacted the disease while helping Sierra-Leoneans battle it.

While it may seem that Nigerians on social media get a grasp of the disease, many others are either misinformed or place the cure of the disease on faith, causing the government to issue a warning to faith based organisations to desist from claiming they can heal the disease.

Also, a random sampling done by PREMIUM TIMES in Lagos showed that there are many Nigerians who still do not know about the disease, have not heightened their sense of personal hygiene, and will most likely mistake the symptoms of Ebola for other illnesses with similar manifestations, and could come in contact with Ebola patients without being fully prepared to.

Health officials have repeatedly listed these precautions as ways to curb the spread of the disease.

With the death of the Nigerian nurse who came in contact with Patrick Sawyer, the Liberian who first died of the disease in Nigeria, and the confirmation that five other Nigerians are down with the disease, there is the reality that there can be an epidemic if the virus is not quickly contained.

The World Health Organization in July released a report linking the outbreak of the disease in Guinea, Sierra-Leone and Liberia to a severe lack of cooperation by the local populace and ignorance about the fatal Ebola virus and its proper medical handling.

As more Nigerians are diagonised with the disease, and the Federal and Lagos State governments declaring a national emergency and promising to contain it, the aspect of enlightenment on the disease seems to be relegated or downplayed.

PREMIUM TIMES’ random sampling‎ showed many Nigerians of various backgrounds saying they do not know about the disease or dismissed it as being nothing to be concerned about.

A Lagos mechanic, who simply identified himself as Boye said he had never heard of it.

“I have not heard of this,” he said. “I don’t even know what this is”.

“But if my brother is ill whether Ebola or not, I will carry him o!”

A sales lady at a retail outlet in Surulere, Barikis Ashimiu, ‎said though she’d heard of it, she didn’t think she could contact the disease.

“I don’t know anyone with the disease…”

As regards the hygiene especially washing her hands, she said “it is not something that I have been doing since I heard about Ebola. I did not know it was that serious”.

Two teenage sisters, Amarachi and Chiamaka Okafor, were asked if they heard about the disease, they said yes. They, however, said they did not know the symptoms or how to prevent it.

“I have heard about the Ebola, but I don’t know what it really is…, I don’t how to prevent it,” one of the girls said.

Also, there appears to be lack of cooperation among some faith based organisations and individuals on how to curtail the disease.

A member of a church congregation, who is informed about the Ebola virus, said she was told in church and believes that the virus could never come into church. She said if the virus gets into church, it would bow to the name of Jesus.

Another church member, Ijeoma Olisakwe, said the disease cannot affect the children of God “who are called by His name”.

On Wednesday, the Lagos State Government advised churches, mosques and other religious organisations to suspend all activities that involve large gatherings of people until the Ebola outbreak is brought under control.

It is not clear if the religious organisations will heed the advice as most churches gathered for their‎ normal mid-week prayers amidst plans for larger gatherings.

According to experts, the Ebola virus causes viral hemorrhagic fever and multiple-organ failure.

Early symptoms include fever, weakness, joint pain, headaches and sore throat. Later symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, impaired kidney and liver function – and internal and external bleeding.

It is spread through contact with body fluids such as blood, saliva, urine, sweat, and other secretions of infected people.

There is no known cure for the disease which has a fatality rate of 60-90 per cent.


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