Ivory Coast on alert for Ebola virus

Though no cases have yet been detected, there are already growing concerns of an outbreak of the virus among the local population

Though no cases have yet been detected, there are already growing concerns of an outbreak of the virus among the local population

ABIDJAN – Ivorian authorities are stepping up efforts to prevent the possible spread of Ebola from neighboring Guinea, where dozens have already died of the tropical virus.

"As preventive measures we are advising the entire population to avoid hunting animals like chimps, bats, gorillas, antelopes and pigs, and avoid playing with animals," Simplice Dagnan, director-general of the National Institute of Public Hygiene, told Anadolu Agency.

He also warned the public to steer clear of anyone with a fever or who was bleeding and to immediately report them to the nearest hospital.

Health authorities in Ivory Coast set up a coordination center in the western part of the country to supervise prevention measures after 80 cases of Ebola were recorded in neighboring Guinea – 60 of whom have since succumbed to the virus.

The center will be directed by the prefect of the western town of Man, from which health personnel will be sent to remote border localities to monitor travellers' movements.

Dagnan said there was a high risk that the virus would spread due to significant population movements between Guinea and Ivory Coast, which share a 610-kilometer border.

Security has been beefed up at the country's main international airport in Abidjan in order to monitor visitors, who will undergo tests if they exhibit signs of Ebola fever.

Ebola is a contagious disease for which there is no known treatment or cure.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the virus tends to cause severe viral hemorrhagic fever with a fatality rate of some 90 percent.

The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads through human-to-human transmission.

The tropical virus appeared for the first time in 1976 in Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. It was named after the Ebola River, which runs close to the Congolese town of Yambuku – the site of the first documented case of the virus.

-Panic-

International health institutions operating in Ivory Coast – like the WHO – say they cannot intervene at the moment because an outbreak of the disease has yet to be reported.

They will be available to assist the government, however, if called upon to assist in prevention efforts.

Though no cases have yet been detected in Ivory Coast, there are already growing concerns of an outbreak of the virus among the local population.

Schoolchildren, meanwhile, have been instructed to stop eating meat and to wash their hands properly.

"I have instructed all my pupils to wash their hands with antiseptic soap before and after class," Kone Brahima, principal of the Minata Primary School in Abidjan, told AA.

"We no longer allow the sale of any dishes cooked with meat in our canteens," he said.

"I get calls from parents every few hours to check if their kids are okay," asserted the educator.

"That shows you the growing fear of the disease in the country right now."

Copyright © 2014 Anadolu Agency