5 August 2014
The risk of any case of Ebola virus in St Helena is extremely remote. This paper is for information only.
There is currently an outbreak of Ebola in West Africa. The main countries affected are Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. To date, the confirmed number of people infected is around 1300.
Is it a concern for St Helena?
The risk of a single case appearing on St Helena is very remote. But, it is possible for a single case of an infectious disease to appear almost anywhere in the world. Even if a case were detected in St Helena, it would not necessarily lead to any outbreak, and good precautionary measures in place on the Island reduce the risk significantly.
What is SHG doing?
SHG is working closely with Andrew Weir Shipping to minimise any chance of anyone boarding or landing from the RMS carrying the Ebola virus. Additional questions will also be asked of yacht and ship crews arriving to the Island, both prior to and on arrival.
If you are travelling to St Helena, please be prepared for questions from shipping agents and officials regarding your travel history.
How is the Ebola virus spread?
It is extremely unlikely that someone would catch Ebola from simply being on the same boat or plane or in the same public space with someone who is affected. The Ebola virus does not tend to travel through the air like the Flu and other respiratory illnesses.
In order to catch Ebola, you have to actually touch the bodily fluids of an Ebola virus carrier, either directly or on bedding etc. After that, you would have to allow the virus to enter into your body by, for example, touching food and eating it.
The illness can be fatal, but survival rates are improved through early detection and ensuring patients are well hydrated through initial stages.
What are the symptoms of Ebola?
The incubation period for Ebola ranges from 2 to 21 days.
Symptoms for Ebola include any combination of a fever, sore throat, muscle pains and headaches. There is then typically nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, along with decreased functioning of the liver and kidneys. There may also be bleeding.
These symptoms mean that there is usually a good clue that someone might be contagious. But the early symptoms can be confusing because they often look like other viruses, such as the Flu. So:
- It is important to know if the person has recently travelled (within 21 days) through one of the main affected areas (or has been in close contact with someone who has) – ie Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone– and who are suffering fever, throat and muscle pains, headaches, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
If so, this person should seek immediate medical attention.
What can I do?
- Avoid touching the bodily fluids of a potential sufferer (such as sweat, vomit, diarrhea, blood, urine or semen)
- Ensure good general personal hygiene
If you think you may have been in contact with someone who has recently returned from Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone and who is suffering fever, throat and muscle pains, headaches, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea – you must seek immediate medical attention.
- The chance of the Ebola virus ever reaching St Helena is extremely remote
- There are no reported cases
- A common sense approach to dealing with anyone who may be infected will help prevent any spreading of the virus
Further information about the Ebola virus outbreak can be found on the following webpage:
Public Health England, at: http://www.hpa.org.uk/Topics/InfectiousDiseases/InfectionsAZ/Ebola/