Nottingham is prepared for ebola
NOTTINGHAM will be ready to cope with any cases of the deadly ebola disease and contain the threat of an outbreak, experts say.
The news came as a Chilwell-based soldier and a City Hospital medic arrived in Sierra Leone to help African patients.
The UN has declared outbreaks in three West African countries as a global public health emergency. But Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, of the University of Nottingham, thinks the UK has the health infrastructure to cope.
“We are very well prepared,” he said. “It’s a huge threat in terms of global public health levels but we are talking about three countries with extreme poverty issues. We are not expecting any sort of outbreak here, only a handful of cases in the country.”
Ebola has been found in 8,399 cases in seven countries so far and is contracted through bodily fluids. The UK Border Force is set to begin screening passengers arriving in the country and Public Health England expects cases to appear in Britain in the next three months.
Professor Van-Tam said: “The people going out there will make their bodies splash-proof. They will wear gloves, goggles and use splash screens to protect themselves.
“They know the threat better than your average traveller returning from West Africa and will be aware of all the preventative equipment they should be wearing.”
Dr Prith Venkatesan, an infectious diseases consultant at the City Hospital, says measures are in place to deal with any potential ebola cases in Nottingham.
“We know that if ebola is going to develop, it takes less than 21 days since contact,” he said. “So we ask questions to establish where people have been and how long ago. The two threats are travellers and people coming back from volunteering out there.”
He said special attention had been paid to Nigeria as most West Africans living in the UK travelled through the country.
“The majority of cases are likely to be malaria,” said Dr Venkatesan. “But if someone has the symptons, we will place them in one of our negative-pressure isolation rooms, of which we have five at City Hospital.”
If the disease was suspected, they would be sent to a hospital in London –one of four specialist units on standby in the UK.
“We are used to dealing with unknown infections like sars and swine flu, so we have the masks and gloves we need in case,” said Dr Venkatesan.
Fever is a common symptom of ebola and he warned any West Africans with a cold or fever to get in touch with their GPs via telephone to avoid being shunned by other patients.
“GPs will ask a series of questions to determine the risk, and if they can’t rule it out, they will consult us directly,” Dr Venkatesan said.
Anyone worried about fever symptoms, including a high temperature, after coming into contact with someone from the affected regions should call the NHS advice line on 111.