Ebola virus disease is a rare but serious infection caused by the Ebola virus. Since March 2014, there has been a large outbreak affecting Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Cases have also occurred in Senegal, Nigeria, the U.S and Spain. This is the largest ever known outbreak of the disease and has prompted the World Health Organisation to declare a Public Health Emergency of International Concern in August 2014.
How is Ebola transmitted?
Unlike the viruses that cause coughs and colds, Ebola is not spread through airborne particles; it is transmitted by direct contact with the blood and bodily fluids of an infected person who has symptoms. Infection can also occur if broken skin or mucous membranes of a healthy person come into contact with objects that have been contaminated with an Ebola patient’s infectious fluids such as soiled clothing or bed linen. Ebola is not spread by routine social contact with asymptomatic people, such as shaking hands or sitting next to someone.
Who is at risk of getting Ebola?
Anyone who has close physical contact with Ebola patients or handles their blood or fluid samples is at risk. Therefore hospital workers, laboratory staff and family members are at the greatest risk of infection. Even in countries affected by the outbreak, the likelihood of contracting the virus is very low unless there has been a specific exposure.
How does this affect SKIP?
All of the countries that host SKIP projects are currently unaffected by the Ebola outbreak. However, we are aware that this is an evolving situation and so we are regularly seeking up-to-date information from both the UK government and the World Health Organisation. The safety of our volunteers is our primary concern and in the very unlikely event that a case occurs in a country that SKIP works in, we will follow the travel advice from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO). SKIP provides Summer Overseas Support (SOS) and a member of the SKIP National Committee and one of the Trustees will be on call 24 hours a day throughout the summer period. If the situation in a country changes during a project, trained SOS members will be available to handle the emerging situation and if needs be to coordinate the evacuation of a group. SKIP has a contingency fund which can be used to purchase emergency flights, prior to reimbursement from insurance companies. The SKIP website is regularly updated with the current travel advice as stated by the FCO website; alternatively please do not hesitate to contact your SKIP branch or SKIP National if you have any queries or concerns.
A PDF of this information is available HERE
Where can I get more information?
World Health Organisation: http://www.who.int/csr/disease/ebola/en/
UK Government Ebola guidance from Public Health England: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/ebola-virus-disease-clinical-management-and-guidance
Foreign & Commonwealth Office website: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/foreign-commonwealth-office