Thursday, August 14, 2014

False alarm of Ebola in Singapore

An ebola scare in Singapore proved to be a false alarm (thankfully) as a suspected case of a Nigerian woman in her 50s was transferred to Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH)'s Communicable Diseases Centre today from Gleneagles Hospital. The woman in her 50s arrived to Singapore from Nigeria, where there are at least 10 proved cases of ebola, a few days ago and developed high fever.

The alarming news came as a Straits Times tweet at around 3:45 PM saying "Singapore may have its first suspected case of #Ebola". Approximately 1 hour later, the Straits Times sent another tweet saying that the woman does not have Ebola.

There is limited passenger traffic between West Africa and Singapore. Besides, most tropic viruses have signs and symptoms similar to ebola's initial phase (i.e. malaria). Still, ebola's deadly reputation and high kill rate makes every fever or vomiting event a scare in many countries. Recently, a Nigerian man was sent to test after he has developed fever and vomitting in Hong Kong, which proved to be a false alarm.

Ministry of Health also released a statement saying that "The Ministry of Health (MOH) wishes to clarify that there are no suspect cases of Ebola in Singapore at present. MOH will continue to closely monitor the situation, and continually assess and calibrate its measures.".

No Ebola in Singapore (Ebola virus seen here in electron microscope)
The news coincided with a mock case of suspected Ebola drill by The Ministry of Health, Communicable Diseases Centre and Changi Airport Group held as a emergency preparedness exercise.

Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) is transmitted through direct contact with blood, body fluids and tissues of infected persons or animals, or by contact with contaminated objects. Although difficult to transfer, once it enters the body, it creates severe signs and symptoms resulting in death in 59% to 90% percent of the patients. Currently, there is no cure for Ebola and the patients are usually put into intensive hospital care with the hope that the body will fight of the disease.

Current West Africa Ebola Outbreak is the worst outbreak in terms of number of deaths, the area effected and the duration.

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