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Ebola: Is it fear or ignorance?

12 August 2014, 08:10 matthew Abah

It is no longer news that central and west African countries have been battling with one of the most (if not the most) dangerous disease outbreak in the history of humanity. Though thought to be a regional disease, it is fast spreading its tentacle to other countries from the region of origin.

Health expert called it Ebola disease caused by a rugged and merciless Ebola virus believed to have been contacted from fruit bat which are natural host of the virus from which animals like monkey and chimpazee became infected and then tranmitted to man from any of the above mentioned animals.

The disease whose symptoms include fever, severe headache, muscle pain, sore throat and subsequently bleeding from mouth, nose and other openings from the body has led to over 1000 death since its outbreak and most especially since early this year.

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The first official recorded case in Nigeria occured late July, 2014 when a liberian was diagnosed of the disease and sebsequently gave up the ghost in a Lagos hospital. since then, few other cases have been confirmed including a nurse who attended to the Leberian and also lost the battle against the virus.

It was as a result of this development that government institutions as well as well minded individual took it upon themselves to sensitize defenseless citizen on the deadly nature of the virus and how to avoid it.

Then suddenly, precisely on the night of Wednessday 7th August, 2014 some evil minded Nigerain decided to throw the entire country into a state of confussion by the circulation through text messages and social media as well as phone calls on supposed discovery of "Ebola vacine" whose main constituent is water and table salt.

Also Read:Jonathan urges Nigerians not to panic about Ebola

In few hours this unscientific and factless rumour spread like wild fire throughout the whole country.

The instruction for the "vacine" was that people should take their bath with boiled salted water and are also to drink a little of the solution before dawn of 8th August, 2014. Family members called or text each other, lovers used the opportunity to express their love for their loved ones, friends showed they were real and could be relied on by telling their friends.

In the middle of the night sleep were interupted to adhere to this "evil medical instructions" , neighbours woke themselves up to do this evil ablution and to make it worse, it was done with panic as people added their own story to the already circulating "breaking news".

Higher institution of learning were not left out in this national drama.

When the news got to me, as a graduate of biological science serving my country, i asked my landlady in the community where am serving who never had any formal education how she come about the news only to discover that it was a product of somebody called somebody and that person called another person who inturn called another person.

Also Read: Orji dismisses Ebola case report in Abia

Then i asked my self these questions; what is the connection among salted boiled water, mid night bath and Ebola? when did Ebola become air borne? what are the properties of water and salt solution that makes it anti-viral or anti-ebola? Then i realized it was the handiwork of mischief makers who took advantage of how people dreaded the disease to cause national confusion.

I walked out of my room that night and the noise from neigbourhood showed that the whole conmunity was awake. what made me wonder is that so-called elites and literates were calling family membets to ensure they perform the saving ablution from Ebola. Even worse is the fact that a friend of mine called me from a university campus that they were all outside taking their bath with salt water then i again asked my self are Nigerian so scared that they can not think or ask logical question? Does the theory of salt and water sound convincing enough to be effective against virus even to our so called literate? Are we so dumb in Nigeria? Was it really fear of death or embarrasing ignorance that caused that national panic.

Also Read: 10 cases of Ebola confirmed in Nigeria

What that episode showed is that relevant health authorities have alot to do to educate and enlighten Nigerian on the Ebola virus and how best to prevent it among population  of the country. Evil men should desist from spreading false and inaccurate informationon.

Ebola could be prevented by proper hygienic practices such ad regular washing of hands, avoiding unneccessary body contact with people especially with the sick, avoid bush meat especially from fruit bat, monkey and chimpazee, avoid fruit half eaten by bat and frquent disinfecting of our environment with potent disinfectant and report suspected cases to concerned authorities.

Ebola is real but lives could be saved with the correct information.

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