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.
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.
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:
— Chuba Ugwu (@chonsyy) July 24, 2014
The same view was echoed by @9jaBloke in London:
Lord, the insecurity is bad enough. This Ebola scare if confirmed, would be just too much. Your mercy we seek! — Charles the 1st (@9jaBloke) July 24, 2014
Nego in Lagos pointed out the horrible timing of the doctors’ strike and the arrival of Ebola in Nigeria:
This Ebola For Nigeria! Hmmmm! E No Go Funny oo, With The Way Our Doctors Are Going On Strike.. — Nego (@NegoMcjohn1) July 25, 2014
Violinist Godwin Strings was concerned about the public health implication for women and children:
Children nd market women are at great risk wit this Ebola outbreak. I think an awareness campaign for them should be prioritised. #Godhelpus
— Godwin Strings (@GodwinStrings) July 25, 2014
Uyi Omorhienrhien wasn't confident that the country's bloggers would inform web users about Ebola:
Enlighten people about this Ebola virus our bloggers will not. Trust them to be the first to let you know if Beyonce ate moi moi [a Nigerian steamed bean pudding made from a mixture of washed and peeled black-eyed peas, onions and fresh ground peppers]
— Uyi Omorhienrhien (@Mr_Endie) July 24, 2014
Henry Okelue shared an infographic to spread useful information on the virus:
A death due to the Ebola virus has been officially reported in Lagos. Here is what you need to know about the virus.. pic.twitter.com/wbb3B7pT46
— Chibok – 100+ Days (@4eyedmonk) July 25, 2014
@onose10w urged everyone to be hygienic:
This Ebola virus is quite serious oo pls always wash ure hands…..prevention is better than cure…….#Be safe
— Mz_BONDZ (@onose10w) July 25, 2014
@Dimeji_W turned it into a joke:
Mahn ain't taking no chances with this Ebola thing. Have me stepping into the club like: pic.twitter.com/JJrrljT6El
— Mr. W (@Dimeji_W) July 25, 2014
But @daveek10 didn't appreciate jokes about Ebola:
Twitter peeps: must u guys make a joke outta everything? This Ebola jokes are not funny abeg
— King David (@daveek10) July 25, 2014