Speakers discuss clinical manifestations and outcome, protocols regarding patient care including diagnosis and management

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Teaching Session about EBOLA VIRUS DISEASE at JPMC

Speakers discuss clinical manifestations
and outcome, protocols regarding patient
care including diagnosis and management

Prof. Tasnim Ahsan highlights ethical issues related
to health care workers safety and patient care

KARACHI: Panic has ensued by the impending threat of the Ebola virus disease. Karachi is vulnerable because it has both an International airport as well as sea port. This epidemic has the potential to transform into a frightening pandemic, as nearly 5000 people are dead by now in the West African countries. Ebola is highly contagious that spreads through contact with bodily fluids — blood, vomit, feces, saliva and semen of those infected. The infection manifests with flu like symptoms beginning with fever and headache, sore throat and muscle pain, followed by diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain and then progressing to kidney failure, liver failure and bleeding tendencies. Following initial exposure, it may take from 2-21 days for the symptoms to appear. Currently no drug or vaccine is available to eradicate the disease. There is also no facility to test for this virus in Pakistan.

A teaching session, for updating all categories of staff, was held at the Najmuddin Auditorium of JPMC, on October 28th 2014. It was attended by the Heads of all departments, faculty members, junior doctors, students, nursing and paramedical staff.

The program was chaired by the Executive Director JPMC, Prof. Tasnim Ahsan, who briefly introduced the growing burden of the current Ebola outbreak. She apprised the audience of the steps that have been taken by the administration to deal with this situation especially in view of the spate of CCHF patients received in the hospital. She also reminded the staff about the ethical issues, in terms of health care workers safety and patient care. She emphasized that the key to safety for the health care personnel lies in consistent and rigorous application of the protocols that are being put in place.

A comprehensive one hour lecture was delivered by Dr. Uzma Erum, from the Medicine department, on the Ebola Virus disease. A clear and accurate guidance on the current disease burden, its clinical manifestations and outcome, protocols and procedures pertaining to all aspects of patient care, including diagnosis, management, sampling technique, transportation and waste disposal, burial technique of the deceased and self protection were addressed. The protocol of donning and removing Personal Protective Equipment, in handling these patients was demonstrated. The lecture was followed by an open discussion session.
The hospital administration acknowledged that, it would not be easy to treat Ebola cases owing to a number of reasons, it is nevertheless possible to do so if we deploy and improvise on existing resources. We cannot afford to be complacent about Ebola as well as other viral haemorrhagic fevers, like CCHF. Even one case slipping through, can have horrific consequences. So the first management step lies in disease prevention.

The discussion panel focused on implementation of immediate practical steps. It was concluded that there should be mandatory temperature screening at international airports, of individuals arriving from endemic regions and designation of specific hospitals with appropriately equipped well-trained staff, co-ordinated by a central authority. Specific triage area for the suspected patients has been identified at JPMC. However, the hospital does not have any quarantine facility. Effective care of the patients will require co-ordination between difference government agencies and the hospitals. Also the medical as well as social media should be used to raise awareness about the risks of Ebola infection among the general public, and importantly not to create panic.

Though the containment measures sound simple, they need a solemn coordination, resources, planning, practice, and most importantly a constant vigil. These measures are not intrinsic, we must harness it. (PR)

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