Reported Presence Of Ebola Virus In Liberia Brings Back Ugly Memories From The Loss Of Thousands Of Lives

Recent disclosure by the Director General of the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL), Mr. Tolbert Nyenswah that discovery from research conducted by the institute and the Ministry of Health (MoH) to establish whether bats carry the Ebola virus, has proven positive.

This means that as per the research conducted by the Liberian Government, the Zaire Ebola virus was found only in one type of bat, Nyenswah disclosed, clarifying, however, that “there is no known case of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in people in Liberia at the moment.”

Addressing the Ministry of Information regular press briefing in Monrovia on Thursday, Nyenswah said the NPHIL and the MoH have been sampling bats for the last two years in Liberia and discovered the Zaire Ebola virus in a single bat species.

Following disclosure by the Liberian health authorizes, GNN reporters assigned around the country took up time to speak to Liberians about their reactions to this latest troubling report after the demised of thousands of Liberians and other nationals in the sub region.

Many of them interviewed by the GNN expressed fear, and hope the Liberian health authorities will see reason to speedily abort the bouncing back of this deadly virus, with one of those interviewed reflecting on his nightmare during the attack of the virus on his family, “I lost my entire family including my five months old daughter as a result of this virus. I pray that this government will don something to stop it before taken its root in the country,” David Jackson, III, of central Monrovia said.

According to reports from GNN reporters across the country, Liberians spoken to are also expressing concerns about such disclosure by health authorities, and wondering as to whether the Ministry of Health and other NGOs in the health sector have the capacity to curtail any outbreak of the virus.

“We are scared and praying that this deadly virus will pass over us. In our village over 1500 people died as a result of this virus being present here; one house in this village lost all its occupants, not a single person stayed alive,” Jonathan Sarweah a resident of Toe’s Town in Grand Gedeh County told the GNN in an interview.

For Martha Teah of Pleebo-Sodoken, in Maryland County narrating her ordeal in a visible tears rolling down her cheeks urged the Liberian Government of President George Weah to authorize its health authority to do all in its power to abort the reoccurring of the disease that took the lives of thousands of Liberians.

According to Liberian health authority through the Director General of the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL), Mr. Tolbert Nyenswah,  “To date, all other bats have tested negative, there is no known case of Ebola virus disease in people in Liberia at this time,” Nyenswah emphasized.

He explained that the type of bat that was found carrying the Zaire Ebola virus lives in many countries in Africa, including Liberia, and as such finding the Ebola virus in a bat in Liberia is “not surprising.”

“It is likely that Ebola virus may also be found in other countries in Africa where that type of bat lives,” Nyenswah added.

He pointed out that the discovery is significant because it is the first detection of Zaire Ebola virus in a bat in West Africa and provides important evidence that the particular bat may be a natural host for the Ebola virus.

“Ongoing investigation will examine whether more of this type or other types of bats are infected, and how bat spread the virus. This information will be used to develop strategies to reduce the risk of future outbreaks,” Nyenswah stated.

Though there is no Ebola Virus in humans in the country at the moment, Nyenswah affirmed, he however, encouraged people living in Liberia and the region to continue the hand washing practice and avoid eating bats, monkeys and rats.

He wants the public to avoid direct contact with dead bats or their blood, feces and urine as well as refraining from eating fruits that look like they have been bitten by bats.

“Killing or removing bats from a local cave or mine has been shown to increase the risk of infection with a virus similar to Ebola. Bats are important for controlling insects, pests and pollinating trees, ” Nyenswah cautioned.

Meanwhile, the NPHIL boss also confirmed that the entity between January and December 2018 responded to 48 outbreaks of diseases across the country.

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About Cholo Brooks 14528 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.