Via BDLive.co.za: SA on alert after Ebola outbreak in Guinea. Excerpt:
The National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) has issued an alert to port health authorities to be on the lookout for travellers arriving from Guinea with suspected Ebola, after an outbreak there.
The United Nations has warned that Guinea’s Ebola outbreak, which has killed at least 59 people, is threatening to spread to neighbouring countries Sierra Leone and Liberia.
While Guinea and its neighbours are not tourist destinations for South Africans, there are ties with local oil and mining companies, which means that workers regularly travel between the two countries. PetroSA has oil exploration acreage in Guinea, while ASX-listed Tawana — which has a secondary listing on the JSE — is exploring for iron ore at Mofe Creek in Liberia.
Ebola is spread by direct contact with infected blood or tissue, but not by casual contact such as one would have in a meeting or on public transport, according to the NICD’s head of epidemiology, Lucille Blumberg. It therefore poses a "very low" risk to travellers to the region, who face a far bigger threat from malaria.
"There are no travel restrictions. If you are working there or travelling there you just need to be aware of the illness. And healthcare workers here need to be aware (too)," Dr Blumberg said.
The disease has no vaccine or cure, and it has an extremely high mortality rate of up to 90%.
Port health authorities and laboratories had been notified of Guinea’s Ebola outbreak and given instructions on how to identify suspected cases, Dr Blumberg said. A patient with suspected Ebola would have had to have direct contact with a confirmed case and be feverishly ill.
The Department of Health’s head of communicable diseases, Frew Benson said normal port health measures — which include scanners at OR Tambo and Lanseria airports that could detect a raised temperature — were adequate.
The last confirmed case of imported Ebola in South Africa was in the mid-1990s, according to Dr Blumberg.