Samoa Ministry of Health Communiqué on Ebola

18th September, 2014

The Ministry of Health Samoa, with support from the World Health Organization (WHO), wishes to make the following advisory concerning International Travel and concerns of the Ebola virus disease (EBV). The current Ebola outbreak is on-going and considered a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), and already confirmed in the West African countries of Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria but now also in Senegal, with an unrelated Ebola outbreak in the Republic of Congo.

WHO maintains that the risk of importing a case of Ebola into a Pacific Island nation remains low, Currently there are no direct flights from Ebola-affected areas to Samoa. However, many of our people travel widely, such as Sporting bodies and Government Officials, even into Africa. Hence this advisory update which the public is advised to take close notice of and ensure safety during travel.

The risk of transmission of Ebola virus disease during air travel is low. Ebola is not airborne - it can only be transmitted by direct contact with the body fluids of a person who is sick with the disease and is showing symptoms of Ebola. WHO does not recommend imposing travel bans to or from the countries affected, in accordance with advice from the WHO Ebola Emergency Committee.

What is Ebola virus disease?
Ebola virus disease is a severe, often fatal illness. Signs and Symptoms include sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat are typical signs and symptoms. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding. The incubation period, or the time interval from infection to onset of symptoms, is from 2 to 21 days. They are not contagious during the incubation period. However, patients become contagious once they begin to show symptoms.

How do people become infected with the virus?
In the current outbreak in West Africa, the majority of cases in humans have occurred as a result of human-to-human transmission. Infection occurs from direct contact through broken skin or mucous membranes with the blood, or other bodily fluids or secretions (stool, urine, saliva, semen) of infected people. Infection can also occur if broken skin or mucous membranes of a healthy person come into contact with environments that have become contaminated with an Ebola patient’s infectious fluids such as soiled clothing, bed linen, or used needles.
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