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Indian officials scramble to set up isolation facilities to treat Ebola


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(NaturalNews) As the Ebola outbreak tears through West Africa, nations all around the world have begun to consider and take emergency measures to ensure that the deadly virus does not make its way to their borders.

One such country is India, where authorities have been on heightened alert since August, according to the country's health ministry, which said officials believe that there is a high risk that the virus could make its way to the world's most populous democracy.

Especially worrisome, Indian health officials said, is the large population of nationals working in the four affected West African nations; should they begin returning en masse, the danger would be dramatically heightened.

As reported by Reuters:

There are nearly 45,000 Indian nationals living and working in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria - where an outbreak of the disease has killed [thousands of] people, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan told parliament....

No natural immunity in India, one of the world's most populous countries

"If the situation worsens in the affected countries, there could be possibility of these Indians travelling back to India," Vardhan said. "While the risk of Ebola virus cases in India is low, preparedness measures are in place to deal with any case of the virus imported to India."

Also, last month, Liberia declared a state of emergency because of the worst-ever outbreak, after the country's health system began to break down and collapse. Officials there noted that a number of major airlines had ceased flights to the country and a number of expats were known to be departing.

In recent days, the Bombay High Court -- in response to a complaint lodged by activist Ketan Tirodkar -- ordered the State Government to improve screening facilities at international airports in Pune and Nagpur, with an eye toward passengers who are returning from countries that are currently under siege by the disease. The new screening facilities should mimic those already in place at international airports in the capital of New Dehli and in Mumbai.

The Health Site reported that many Indians fleeing the disease are returning to portions of India where there are inadequate Ebola screening facilities.

Health officials in India further noted that, since the disease originated in Africa and has never migrated to India, there is no natural immunity within the country's boundaries. That means if Ebola were to arrive there, the death rate would be extremely high, they added.

Initially, the vast number of Ebola cases was limited to a remote border area shared by Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia. But concerns about the intercontinental spread of the virus grew drastically after American aid workers and a U.S. citizen from Minnesota died from the disease. The latter succumbed to the highly contagious virus after traveling to Nigeria, raising Ebola fears there as well.

Also, in Saudi Arabia, a man who was believed to have contracted the virus during a recent business trip to Sierra Leone died early last month in Jeddah.

Those returning from afflicted areas will be monitored

In August, Vardhan, the Indian health minister, advised against all non-essential travel to the four afflicted African nations. He added that authorities intend to aggressively screen travelers who originate from affected nations or transit through them, and then track their movement and activities once arriving in India.

At Indian airports, authorities have set up facilities to manage patients who arrive and exhibit signs and symptoms of Ebola. Medical experts say that signs range from intense weakness and fever to internal and external bleeding. They say the incubation period for the disease is between two and 21 days.

"The surveillance system would be geared up to track these travellers for four weeks and to detect them early, in case they develop symptoms," Vardhan said. "These persons would also be advised to self report in case of symptoms."

"Though there is no vaccine or curative therapy for Ebola virus disease, I want to apprise this house that outbreaks can be contained through early detection and isolation of cases, contact tracing and monitoring, and following rigorous procedures for infection control, if such cases were to report in our country," Vardhan added.

Learn more about natural defenses against viral outbreaks at BioDefense.com.







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