Santín stated at a press conference that 1,711 cases and 932 deaths from the serious illness, previously known as hemorrhagic fever, have been reported in Guinea, Sierra Leona, Liberia and Nigeria. Victims of the disease face a mortality rate of 90%.
Spreading of the outbreak in West Africa, within and between affected countries continues due to a high level of traffic across borders; problems in identification of those who come in contact with the virus; less than optimal preventative measures and treatment of the infected; and the existence of undetected transmission routes.
The MINSAP expert clarified that, although Cuba does not have direct flights from any of the countries affected, international visitors traveling by air could introduce the virus. Measures have therefore been taken by Cuban authorities, to respond to such an event, he said.
Dr. Santín reiterated the importance of knowing the characteristic symptoms of the illness, which has an incubation period of two to 21 days, with an average of eight to 10. Awareness is also being promoted of how the virus is transmitted and measures taken to strengthen vigilance, he reported.
The doctor emphasized that Cuban collaborators in the affected countries are not working in areas where the virus has been reported, although individual hygienic measures, such as the use of protective masks, coats and gloves, are being taken.
Collaborators who are in Cuba on vacation have spent time in quarantine and are being carefully watched to prevent the entry of the disease into the country.
Dr. Santín commented that the world is facing many new risks, from climate change to multiple cholera and AIDS epidemics. Cuba is preparing to respond to these problems, and has a well-organized epidemiological vigilance system, he said.
Also speaking with the press was Dr. Jorge Pérez, director of the Pedro Kourí Tropical Medicine Institute (IPK), who explained that the first EVE outbreak was detected in 1976 in Congo, and that bats are natural carriers of the virus, while other infections have been traced to gorillas and chimpanzees.
The IPK scientist said that the principal mode of human-to-human transmission is direct contact with bodily fluids (blood, sweat, mother’s milk, semen, etc), and insisted that those with symptoms such as fever, headache or chills should seek medical attention, since an EVE infection may be confused with another less serious illness. (AIN)