With Doctors on Strike and Boko Haram on the Loose, Nigerians Fear an Ebola Outbreak

Health workers in an Ebola screening unit in Kenema government hospital, Sierra Leone. 30 June 2014. Photo by Tommy Trenchard. Copyright Demotix

Health workers in an Ebola screening unit in Kenema government hospital, Sierra Leone. 30 June 2014. Photo by Tommy Trenchard. Copyright Demotix

The latest outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in West Africa, considered to be the worst ever since the virus was discovered in 1976, has killed 672 people across Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, according to the World Health Organization. 

The disease now has reached Nigeria, where a Liberian man infected with Ebola died in Lagos, a city of 21 million. The country's Federal Ministry of Health confirmed that the man was tested after he collapsed on arrival at Murtala Mohammed International Airport Lagos

2014 West Africa Ebola outbreak Situation Map (Image released to public domain by CDC)

2014 West Africa Ebola outbreak Situation Map as at July 20, 2014. Image released to public domain by CDC.

So far, health officials have counted 1,201 cases since it was first diagnosed in February. About 60 percent of people who have caught the disease in the current outbreak have died.

The Liberian man's body was cremated in Lagos, and the private hospital where he was treated has been shut and quarantined

An outbreak of the highly infectious disease in Nigeria would be catastrophic. The country is at war with the Islamist militant group Boko Haram, which has killed, maimed and abducted civilians over the last four years. Also, about 30,000 members of the Nigerian Medical Association are on an indefinite strike until certain changes are made to the public health system. Critics have called their demands “untenable.” Following the Liberian man's death from Ebola in Lagos, the association refused to return to work.

Ebola virus is transmitted through contact with the body fluids of infected animals like bats and monkey. This is why the outbreak has devastated those areas where bush meat, or meat from wild animals, is eaten. The virus can spread from person to person through direct contact with blood, broken skin of someone who is infected or an infected corpse. Symptoms include fever, weakness, nausea, headache, diarrhea, and internal and external bleeding.  

Nigerian netizens have been discussing the dangers that a possible Ebola epidemic poses to the country. Chuba Ugwu, a scientist between Lagos and London, wrote on Twitter: 

The same view was echoed by @9jaBloke in London: 

Nego in Lagos pointed out the horrible timing of the doctors’ strike and the arrival of Ebola in Nigeria: 

Violinist Godwin Strings was concerned about the public health implication for women and children:

Uyi Omorhienrhien wasn't confident that the country's bloggers would inform web users about Ebola: 

Henry Okelue shared an infographic to spread useful information on the virus: 

@onose10w urged everyone to be hygienic: 

@Dimeji_W turned it into a joke: 

But @daveek10 didn't appreciate jokes about Ebola: 

Follow our in-depth coverage: The Struggle to #StopEbola in West Africa


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