Via CIDRAP, Robert Roos writes: Quarantine escapee sparked more Ebola in Nigeria. It's actually much more, a concise survey of an eventful day. Excerpt:
A contact of Nigeria's first Ebola patient fled quarantine in August and passed the disease to a doctor, who subsequently infected at least two other people, offering a textbook example of how not to deal with the disease, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported today.
The episode extended Ebola's reach in Nigeria from Lagos, the capital, to Port Harcourt, the country's oil hub on the southeastern coast. Because of the number of people exposed to the doctor, the outbreak in Port Harcourt could grow bigger than the original outbreak in Lagos, the WHO said.
Meanwhile, a trio of United Nations (UN) and WHO officials today again stressed the urgent need to expand the international response to West Africa's Ebola epidemic, but insisted that the governments of the affected countries must remain in charge of efforts within their borders. The officials estimated that the international effort will cost at least $600 million.
Port Harcourt cases
A sick airline passenger, Patrick Sawyer, spread Ebola virus to Nigeria when he flew from Liberia to Lagos on Jul 20; he died on Jul 25. One of Sawyer's close contacts in Lagos fled the city, where he was under quarantine, to seek treatment in Port Harcourt, the WHO said in today's statement.
The contact was treated from Aug 1 to 3 by a male physician at a Port Harcourt hotel. The physician fell ill on Aug 11, but for 2 days afterward he continued treating patients at his private clinic, operating on at least two of them, the WHO said.
On Aug 13 his symptoms worsened, and he then stayed home until he was hospitalized on Aug 16, the WHO said. He died on Aug 22, and his Ebola virus disease (EVD) was confirmed on Aug 27 by a lab at Lagos University Teaching Hospital.
After he got sick, the doctor had numerous contacts with others, both before and after his hospitalization, the WHO said. In the hospital, members of his church visited him and performed a healing ritual said to involve the laying on of hands, and he was attended by most of the hospital staff.
The two people who caught the virus from the physician are his wife, also a doctor, and another patient at the hospital where he was treated, according to the WHO, which did not describe their conditions. Other hospital staff members are being tested.
"Given these multiple high-risk exposure opportunities, the outbreak of Ebola virus disease in Port Harcourt has the potential to grow larger and spread faster than the one in Lagos," the agency said.
It said Nigerian health workers and WHO epidemiologists are monitoring more than 200 contacts, including about 60 believed to have had high-risk or very high-risk exposures.
The Port Harcourt cases apparently raise Nigeria's Ebola count to at least 20 cases and 7 deaths. The latest WHO general update on Ebola in West Africa, on Aug 28, put Nigeria's tally at 17 cases and 6 deaths.