Two days after a Liberian infected by the dreaded Ebola virus was confirmed dead in a Lagos hospital, a massive enlightenment campaign aimed at preventing its spread has begun on many social networking sites.
The deceased, Patrick Sawyer, was said to have arrived in the country last Sunday (July 20) on a flight from Monrovia via the Togolese capital, Lome.
Government institutions, such as the National Emergency Management Agency, and other concerned individuals have turned to the social media to educate members of the public on how to avoid getting infected with the virus.
Multi award-winning record producer and Chief Executive Officer of Mavin Records, Don Jazzy, as well as rapper Rugged Man, are some of the popular Nigerians on social media who are using the social networks to educate their followers.
Don Jazzy particularly urged his fans to avoid places where there have been recent outbreaks of the disease, adding that Nigerians in general should endeavour to report any suspicious cases of the disease to any of the emergency centers that have been created by various tiers of government across the country.
“I have been quarantined. But why do we even shake hands? It’s not necessary. Or better still use sanitizer and wash hands regularly with soap if you must shake hands,” Don Jazzy wrote on Twitter.
On the other hand, Rugged Man noted that health authorities ought to track down the nurse, doctors and other medical officials who examined Sawyer on arrival in Nigeria.
He also stated on his Twitter page that Nigerians should imbibe the habit of washing their hands “more than regularly now,” to prevent them from contracting the virus.
“I heard that the first case of the Ebola virus has been reported in Lagos. Please be careful and always wash your hands well.
“How about the nurse and doctor that examined the Liberian before realizing that he had contracted Ebola virus? Do we have health sections at our borders?” he asked, in a series of tweets.
Meanwhile, NEMA has insisted that one of the surest ways of preventing the spread of Ebola was to avoid contact with infected people.
It also added that Nigerians who take delight in eating bush meat should take necessary precautions and avoid their consumption during this period.
In a series of messages on its Twitter account, NEMA noted that since some species of animals – apart from primates – may carry the Ebola virus, people should avoid handling live or dead wild animals.
The emergency agency warned that the bodies of people who have died of Ebola disease are still contagious. It added that only specially organised and trained teams should bury the remains of victims, using appropriate safety equipment.
NEMA stated, “Precautions can help prevent infection and spread of Ebola virus. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand rubs containing alcohol when soap and water are not available.
“Avoid bush meat. In developing countries, wild animals, including nonhuman primates, are sold in local markets. Avoid buying or eating them. Avoid contact with infected people, too.
“Besides, avoid contact with the (infected) person’s body fluids and tissues, including blood, semen, vaginal secretions and saliva. Please don’t handle remains of victims. Only trained personnel should do so.
“Always be sure to wear special protective clothing, including gown, gloves, full face mask and eye goggles, if you are around an infected person.”
The World Health Organisation has said that though there is no specific treatment for Ebola, those diagnosed with the virus could recover with appropriate medical care.
The United Nations agency advised people, particularly citizens of Sub-Saharan Africa to avoid rumour peddling, but seek credible counselling on Ebola from public health authorities.
WHO listed symptoms of an infection with Ebola as including, but not limited to, sudden fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat.
“Time interval from infection to onset of Ebola symptoms is from two to 21 days. Patients become contagious once they begin to show symptoms.
“Seek medical care immediately if in contact with a person known or suspected to have Ebola and beginning to show symptoms.
“If you have been in an area known with Ebola, in contact with a person known or suspected with Ebola and begin to have symptoms, see a doctor.
“Anybody suspected to have contracted the disease should be reported to the nearest health unit without delay,” the global health agency stated on its official Twitter page.