Ebola has taken the life of one of Samuel Sam-Sumana’s bodyguards, John Koroma. The vice president of Sierra Leone has quarantined himself for 21 days Saturday to protect those around him. The vice president is Sierra Leone’s first senior government official to voluntarily put himself into quarantine. Almost 10,000 people have died in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea. It was believed that Ebola was declining in Sierra Leone, but cases have increased this year.
Sam-Sumana said Saturday that he is choosing to be quarantined to lead his people by example. He is feeling well at this time and not showing any signs of the Ebola virus but he does not want to take any chances. The vice president’s staff is also being observed for signs of the illness.
Officials have made the goal to not have any Ebola infections for the next two months in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea. Sierra Leone officials reinstated restrictions in the country due to the amount of recent cases. 99 cases of the virus were recorded the week of February 16, and 63 of these cases were in Sierra Leone, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Many of the recent Ebola cases have been connected to maritime activities, so more vigilant checks have been happening on ferries and other vessels. President Ernest Bai Koroma has ordered the reduction of passengers on ferries by 25 percent to also limit physical contact to protect his people. If other people would follow Vice President Sam-Sumana’s lead that have been on these vessels and quarantine themselves for 21 days, maybe the virus will diminish even more.
Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone have fought this Ebola epidemic for a year. However, the amount of cases has fallen a lot in the past few weeks. A trial vaccine from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will be used in Sierra Leone. The CDC is also working with authorities to vaccinate 6,000 doctors, nurses, healthcare workers, and ambulance drivers. Ebola has infected 11,000 people in Sierra Leone and left 3,400 dead in its wake.
This vaccine trial is just one of the few Ebola vaccines being developed. Designed by U.S. and Canadian government researchers, the vaccine will be tried in Sierra Leone. The company that created the vaccine is licensed to Merck and is called New Link Genetics. Using vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV), this is an animal virus that introduces pieces of the Ebola virus and teaches the immune system to recognize the virus.
More than 23,000 West Africans have been infected and 9,300 killed, according to WHO. There are several trials for a vaccine in Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone. Drugs are also being tested as well as blood products, like plasma, in hopes of finding a way to help patients recover from Ebola.
It would be best to be quarantined before the symptoms appear, just as the vice president of Sierra Leone has done. Ebola symptoms include a high fever, central nervous system damage, and bleeding. Ebola is spread via bodily fluids like saliva and blood. The fatality rate can reach 90 percent. However, the current outbreak has a mortality rate between 54 percent and 62 percent. The incubation period of Ebola is 21 days. There is no vaccine, and currently, there is no cure. It is best to keep Ebola patients hydrated, especially those who have diarrhea and vomiting, to help with recovery. Ebola’s natural host is the fruit bat, which is considered to be a delicacy in West Africa.
By Jeanette Smith
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