Thursday, December 06, 2007

A post from Nairobi I

So there I was, all packed and ready when my colleague called to say that our trip to Uganda planned for this weekend had to be canceled. There was an outbreak of the Ebola virus that had reached even the capital city, Kampala. Am disappointed of course - already planned the pictures of me with one foot on either side of the equator, the traditional wedding we were going to attend - the reason for going in the first place.

My disappointment aside, I feel even more sorry for my co-worker who was supposed to be getting married. Due to the outbreak, he has had to cancel the wedding. Can you imagine? All the preparations, akl the excitement, then this? Must be hard. I just hope that he and his family will be ok.

Coming from Jamaica where the most dangerous disease is dengue fever - and even that had a periodic out break as opposed to a constant presence - it is quite frightening sometimes to think about what diseases the average person is exposed to here on the continent. In the past two months, I have had one co-worker and another friend coming down with typhoid, countless others with malaria - that's like having the flu.

I have of course seen the news reports about outbreaks of the Ebola virus in Central Africa, but never really took the time to read about exactly what is is. I got the following from wikkipedia post on ebola(follow the hyperlink to read more if you are interested):

Ebola hemorrhagic fever is potentially lethal and encompasses a range of symptoms including fever, vomiting, diarrhea, generalized pain or malaise, and sometimes internal and external bleeding. Mortality rates are extremely high, with the human case-fatality rate ranging from 50% - 89%, according to viral subtype. The cause of death is usually due to hypovolemic shock or organ failure.
Because Ebola is potentially lethal and since no approved
vaccine or treatment is available, Ebola is classified as a biosafety level 4 agent, as well as a Category A bioterrorism agent by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It has the potential to be weaponized for use in biological warfare and was investigated for this particular use by both the Soviet Union and the United States during the Cold War. Its effectiveness as a biological-warfare agent is compromised by its extreme deadliness and its quickness: a typical outbreak spreads through a small village or hospital, affects the entire population, and then runs out of potential hosts, burning out before it reaches a larger community.

Frightening isn't it? So will spend today exploring Nairobi instead. Hope my friend and his family will be safe.

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