With the touch-down of the Ebola Virus in Lagos, Nigeria via an ‘American-Liberian’ (Pardon my emphasis on the fact that the late Mr. Sawyer was actually American but this has been down-played on various media outlets) a lot of controversial reports and theories have come forth and I will attempt to highlight some of these based on a series of conversations I had with friends over drinks last Friday.
The FAB Lounge Lagos
So, last Friday, I had an Ebola debate that I had not planned beforehand. I had called a friend, Jiga (not real name) to meet up with me at the newly opened FAB Lounge in Ikeja GRA in Lagos and the first question he asked was whether or not it was packed as he had just gone by a another lounge that he termed an ‘Ebola Transmission Centre’ basically because the place was packed to overflowing with Friday night fun-seekers. I laughed it off saying we don’t do crowd at the FAB Lounge, thinking he was just joking about his earlier statement. I realised that he was not really joking when he finally came through, poked his head in the door holding the door handle with a handkerchief before signing to me at the bar that he would be right back. Yes he came back in with four other friends looking overjoyed and the Managing Director of a major health facility, Chika (not real name) danced in doing a moon-walk. Yes! They yelled! Now a place where we can ‘chill.’ Apparently, they had driven round Ikeja looking for a perfect, non-crowded spot to enjoy their Friday night and after they had settled in, received their orders of peppered chicken and chips plus Hennessy, I joined them in the VIP room and the discussion started with various theories postulated:
The Ebola Virus
Why Mr Sawyer was in Lagos
Jiga said to us’ ‘you know I have been thinking that it seems Sawyer was sent to Lagos to ensure Nigerians are infected with the disease, I mean, why would he be peeing on people and forcing his blood,’ and when I ask why the late Sawyer would have such an intent, he says, ‘The west was not paying attention to their countries plight and Ebola scourge because they did not have enough financial interest in Liberia. However, it was different with Nigeria and once Nigerians were at risk, their (The West) businesses would also suffer, hence, they (The West) were bound to take action in curbing the spread of the disease and Liberia would also be beneficiaries by extension.’ The friend of my friend, Chika let out a loud, ‘wow!’ He now says, ‘I see how that totally works as now the whole world is paying attention to the virus being in Nigeria and why won’t they be? All those flights to and from the United States and the United Kingdom and of course Europe as well. Not to mention all the oil interests amongst other things. Hmmmm!’
The Origin of Ebola
A young lady, Nike (not real name) who had been quietly absorbing the ‘gist’ and looking a bit disturbed as she sipped her Hennessy and Coke then quietly mutters, ‘but how did ebola come about in the first place? Are you sure it wasn’t even the government of west who genetically engineered it and targeted Africa?’ Well, I said, the first case of Ebola, I believe was in the 1970’s so it is really not a new phenom or is it? Jiga then answers saying, ‘I strongly doubt that the American or UK government is involved. However, it may be one of those big pharmaceutical corporations who will, just like the regular computer anti-virus companies create the virus in a bid to sell the anti-virus for a lot of money.’ I then start to ponder out loud saying, ‘but why Nigeria? Why now?’ Nike then says, ‘Is it not a possibility that they may now have sent the virus to a country with 170million people hoping that they could infect a great number of people and sell tonnes of the ‘cure’. Wow!’ I then come in and say, ‘well, I strongly doubt that too unless the virus was malfunctioning as the period between gestation and death was too short for the propaganda to be effectively deployed through media and enough people infected to generate the required response.’
I have made it compulsory to wash or disinfect my hands after handling money, public door handles and anything else that may have been exposed to the public, I said, Prevention they say is better than cure especially in this case where there really is no proven cure. Yes o! Jiga screams, pulling out a tiny plastic container with jell-like content. Chika also screams, ‘The Ebola Antivirus!’
The Africa-Ebola propaganda
Philip who had been quietly sipping his drink and watching the news on one of the 54-inch LED screens in the lounge then lets out an howl followed by a silent and assertive remark, ‘Nigeria and indeed Africa will not be characterised by the Ebola virus.’ Nike looks at him wondering where that random thought could have come from and he says, ‘Have you not been watching all the news channels? All they have to report on Africa now is Ebola and if they keep this up for another three months, it will become the first thing you will hear when you visit Europe or America.’ True! Says Chika, ‘next time you get off a plane, the immigration officers will say he is so sorry for your loss and when you ask him what he means, he will tell you he is sure you must have lost a relative to Ebola.’ We all laughed for all of 10seconds not at ourselves but at the level of ignorance on display in the West even though they’re supposed to be the more developed entities and then we stop laughing almost as though on cue and then all deep in thought for another 60seconds, almost like we held a minutes silence for those we had lost to the Ebola scourge until Jiga said, Nigeria and Africa will be Ebola free someday in Jesus’ name to which everyone answered in chorus, ‘Amen!’
Philip gets up, holding his glass and screams, ‘To an Ebola-free Africa!’ Of course you know what happens thereafter…We partied. Damn! The DJ was good!
**Key facts to note about Ebola
Ebola virus disease (EVD), formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, is a severe, often fatal illness in humans.
EVD outbreaks have a case fatality rate of up to 90%.
EVD outbreaks occur primarily in remote villages in Central and West Africa, near tropical rainforests.
The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission.
Fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family are considered to be the natural host of the Ebola virus.
Severely ill patients require intensive supportive care. No licensed specific treatment or vaccine is available for use in people or animals.
Ebola first appeared in 1976 in 2 simultaneous outbreaks, in Nzara, Sudan, and in Yambuku, Democratic Republic of Congo. The latter was in a village situated near the Ebola River, from which the disease takes its name.
Ebola is introduced into the human population through close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals. In Africa, infection has been documented through the handling of infected chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats, monkeys, forest antelope and porcupines found ill or dead or in the rainforest.
Ebola then spreads in the community through human-to-human transmission, with infection resulting from direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people, and indirect contact with environments contaminated with such fluids. Burial ceremonies in which mourners have direct contact with the body of the deceased person can also play a role in the transmission of Ebola. Men who have recovered from the disease can still transmit the virus through their semen for up to 7 weeks after recovery from illness.
Health-care workers have frequently been infected while treating patients with suspected or confirmed EVD. This has occurred through close contact with patients when infection control precautions are not strictly practiced.
Among workers in contact with monkeys or pigs infected with Reston ebolavirus, several infections have been documented in people who were clinically asymptomatic. Thus, RESTV appears less capable of causing disease in humans than other Ebola species.
However, the only available evidence available comes from healthy adult males. It would be premature to extrapolate the health effects of the virus to all population groups, such as immuno-compromised persons, persons with underlying medical conditions, pregnant women and children. More studies of RESTV are needed before definitive conclusions can be drawn about the pathogenicity and virulence of this virus in humans.
Signs and symptoms
EVD is a severe acute viral illness often characterized by the sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding. Laboratory findings include low white blood cell and platelet counts and elevated liver enzymes.
People are infectious as long as their blood and secretions contain the virus. Ebola virus was isolated from semen 61 days after onset of illness in a man who was infected in a laboratory.
The incubation period, that is, the time interval from infection with the virus to onset of symptoms, is 2 to 21 days.
See more at www.ebolafacts.com