Maharashtra puts districts on alert over Ebola cases

The Maharashtra government has ordered local administrations to gear up for handling any emergent situation regarding the Ebola virus.

The state government has issued orders to district health departments to be prepared to tackle the situation if they come across a patient suffering from Ebola haemorrhagic fever.

The virus has taken toll of around 1,000 people in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.

The fever originally transmitted to humans from animals, spreads among humans by exchange of bodily fluids.

The World Health Organization has declared the outbreak an international public health emergency, and India's Central government has asked the states to be alert.

Public health department officials on Tuesday organised a meeting of civil surgeons and health officers from Kolhapur, Sangli, Sindhudurg and Ratnagiri districts in Maharashtra and briefed them about the steps to be taken if an Ebola case arises.

 R G Mugade, deputy director, public health department (Kolhapur), said, "Our priority is to spread awareness about the disease and be prepared to tackle any situation.

''We have asked the health officers to organise meetings of all medical officers working in government hospitals, including primary health centres, and spread awareness about the symptoms of the disease and preventive measures."

 "The disease is prevalent in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Guinea. We have instructed the medical officers to keep record of patients who have returned from these countries. If the medical officers find any patient suffering from a disease that has symptoms similar to that of the Ebola virus disease, the samples of their blood would be taken immediately and would be sent to the National Institute of Virology in Pune for confirmation," he said.

"We are also taking the help of private medical practitioners and their associations to spread awareness about the disease. Private medical practitioners are asked to refer the patients who are having symptoms similar to Ebola to government hospitals," Mugade added.