Burma Tests Man Returning From Africa for Ebola

By The Irrawaddy 20 August 2014

RANGOON — A 22-year-old Burmese man is being tested for the virus Ebola after he arrived at Rangoon from West Africa suffering from a fever and malaise, a Health Ministry official confirmed Wednesday.

The Ministry of Health’s rapid response team—which has been conducting thermal-imaging checks on passengers arriving at Rangoon International Airport—sent the man and four family members to the Waibagi Hospital in the city’s North Okkalapa Township, which specializes in infectious diseases.

A post on the official Facebook page of Burma’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday night said the man had just come back from Guinea, and “had history of traveling to Guinea and Liberia.” Both West African countries have seen cases of the deadly Ebola virus during an unprecedented outbreak this year that has killed more than 1,200 people in total, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

“He has pain in his body and has a fever. He came back from Guinea, where he was a worker,” Ministry of Health Deputy Directory Nu Nu Kyi told The Irrawaddy.

The four family members, who met the man as he arrived via Bangkok, have no symptoms, but are currently under observation, she said.

Burma does not have the equipment to check whether the man has Ebola, so a sample of his blood has been sent to India, said Nu Nu Kyi.

“We sent the blood test to India, which has a WHO-recognized laboratory. It will take three days to get the result of the blood test back. Our country does not have a modern laboratory to test this blood,” she said.

The Ebola virus is contracted by direct contact with bodily fluids from an infected person, and it manifests early on with symptom similar to the common cold, including fever and malaise. As the disease progresses, an infected person can experience internal bleeding.

The Ministry of Health installed a team equipped with thermal imaging scanners at the country’s international airports earlier this month as governments worldwide battle to prevent the Ebola virus from spreading.