Following rumours of the outbreak of Ebola disease in the country, the federal government yesterday denied any such outbreak in Nigeria but said there had been established cases of â€˜Denger Hemorrhagicâ€™ fever and not that of Ebola as wrongly conceived. The Minister of state for Health, Dr Khaliru Alhassan, who stated this at a press conference in Abuja, declared that media reports concerning the disease were misconceived, as there is no case of Ebola disease in Nigeria.
He however explained that â€˜Dengerâ€™ fever might have been wrongly taken as Ebola disease.
â€œDenger fever is caused by a virus named Dengue Fever Virus (DFV). This virus is transmitted by mosquitoes, mostly in urban and semi-urban areas. The activities of these mosquitoes (Aedes albopictus) that transmit this virus are being closely monitored nationwide by the Arbovirus Research Centre of the Federal Ministry of Health based in Enugu State,â€ the minister said.
Alhassan gave the symptoms of the disease to include: â€œheadache, fever, exhaustion, severe muscle and joint pain, swollen lymph nodes and rashes.â€
The minister stated that â€œat the outset of the disease, it mimics malaria, and often so, it is mistakenly diagnosed as malaria. However, other signs of â€˜Dengerâ€™ fever which include gums, bloody diarrhea, bleeding from the nose and severe pain behind the eyes, red palms and soles, differentiate it from malaria.â€
On preventive measures put in place to arrest its spread, Alhassan maintained that the federal government, through the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) had swung into action to resolve the problem by intensifying its surveillance activities.
To that end, the minister said: â€œAll our airports borders, health posts and medical centres have been put on high alert to screen travelers from countries with confirmed Ebola fever occurrence.
â€œNigerian citizens travelling to these countries are advised to be careful and should report any illness with the above symptoms to the nearest health facility.â€
Also speaking, the Director General of NCDC, Prof. Abdul Nasidi, said with the current alert and surveillance in the country, hunters should guide against coming in contact with game (bush meat) killed during hunting, as he also cautioned Nigerians to be more careful with smoked meat, as the Ebola and Denger fevers could be contacted through indiscriminate eating of such meat.
He told journalists that government would â€œenhance its surveillance activities on areas of high probability where smoked meat is eaten, areas where you have a lot of bats and other tiny animals,â€ stressing: â€œBoth those who hunt and process the meat can contact the virus as well as those who eat smoked meat.â€