Category Archives: West Africa

Nigeria launches electronic ID cards


Jonathan Launches National ID-Card


Jonathan Launches National ID-Card

President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday directed all federal government ministries, agencies and agencies (MDAs) to unify their biometric data capture operations with the national electronic identity card (e-ID Card) scheme.

Accordingly, he directed the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) to enrol and issue the card to all federal civil servants and pensioners for “speedy and safe payment of salaries and pensions.”

Giving the directive when he launched the issuance process of the e-ID card at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, the president asked the commission to work with the Integrated Personnel and Payroll System (IPPS) and Pension Department.

Jonathan said, “The Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) should also ensure immediate compliance. The regime of duplication of biometric data bases must now have to give way to harmonisation and unification with the e-ID scheme, which shall be the primary data base.

“The secretary to the government of the federation (SGF), the attorney-general and minister of justice, and the governor of the CBN should immediately key in. They should, in conjunction with NIMC, reach modalities for the harmonisation of their biometric projects, including other ongoing projects in other MDAs, with the e-ID card scheme.

“Proliferation and duplication of efforts is neither cost effective, nor security-smart. It is important to remove obstacles that may impede the NIMC from the discharge of its constitutional functions and statutory obligations.”

The president lamented the absence of a national identification system which, he said, made it difficult for targets of government’s subsidy programmes and other social security services to be reached.

He said it was for this reason that he considered the launch of the card as an important milestone which has brought his administration’s vision of a reliable national identity database to reality.

He said: “I am particularly pleased about NIMC because a number of things we are supposed to do well as a nation, we are not doing well; and sometimes we blame governmen because of the failure of the system and the credibility of the process.

He noted that the national electronic identity management system would go a long way in addressing this challenge.

Jonathan added: “I’m quite pleased today that with the NIMC’s success story, we are moving forward as a nation. Everybody talks about change, and I always say that it is not possible to just wake up and change. A change is a vector quantity; you must have the magnitude and the direction.

“I have taken keen interest in this project, primarily because of the pervasive impact it can have on every facet of the socio-economic fabric of our dear nation. This is in sync with the transformation agenda of my government”.

NIMC director-general, Mr Chris Onyemenam, had earlier explained that the national e-ID Card was a multi-purpose card for identification, electronic signatures, biometric on-card verification and other applications.  leadership

Ebola – West African health ministers to reverse travel ban


Ebola outbreak: West Africa travel bans to be lifted

Passengers queue to leave Liberia's  Roberts International Airport near Monrovia (28 August 2014) The WHO says that travel bans are jeopardising efforts to beat the epidemic

West African health ministers meeting in Ghana have agreed that travel restrictions imposed to combat Ebola should be lifted.

The ministers followed advice from the World Health Organisation (WHO) which said that the restrictions create food and supply shortages and harm efforts to contain the deadly virus.

The WHO says the West Africa outbreak could infect more than 20,000 people.

It says there could be four times more cases than officially registered.

The WHO said it was important that airlines resume “vital” flights across the region, because travel bans were threatening efforts to beat the epidemic.

Health agents check a passenger leaving Liberia at the Roberts International Airport near Monrovia (27 August 2014)Proper screening will stop the spread of the virus, officials argue
Bruce Aylward, an official at the WHO, speaks to the media during a press conference in Geneva, Switzerland - 28 August 2014Bruce Aylward, a top WHO official, said the number of cases could be much higher than reported

“This is not a West African issue or an African issue. This is a global health security issue,” WHO’s Assistant Director-General Bruce Aylward told reporters in Geneva.

It recommends that countries affected by Ebola should conduct exit screening amid concerns that the virus could spread to 10 further countries beyond the four now affected.

The number of deaths from Ebola in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Nigeria now stands at 1,552. About 3,000 people are registered with the illness.

Announcing an action plan by the WHO to deal with the outbreak, Dr Aylward said “the actual number of cases may be 2-4 fold higher than that currently reported” in some areas.

The plan calls for $489 million (£295m) to be spent over the next nine months and requires 750 international workers and 12,000 national workers across West Africa.

Employees of the Swiss red cross organization (SRK), pack medical goods designated to be sent to Liberia to fight the outbreak and spread of Ebola (28 August 2014)The transport of medical supplies should become easier if travel restrictions are lifted

On Thursday, Nigeria confirmed its first Ebola death outside Lagos, with an infected doctor in the oil hub of Port Harcourt dying from the disease.

Operations have not yet been affected in Africa’s biggest oil producer, but a spokesman for Shell’s Nigerian subsidiary said they were “monitoring the Ebola outbreak very closely”.

The health ministers from across West Africa are attending an extraordinary meeting of the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) in Accra to discuss how to prevent the virus from spreading.

“Excessive restrictions of travel and border closures will adversely affect the economies of the sub-region,” said Ecowas chairman and Ghana’s President John Mahama explaining the decision to lift flight bans.

The BBC’s Tomi Oladipo says Nigeria has recorded its first Ebola death outside Lagos

Earlier Mr Aylward insisted bans on travel and trade would not stop the spread of Ebola, saying they were “more likely to compromise the ability to respond”.

Despite rumours to the contrary, the virus is not airborne and is spread by humans coming into contact with bodily fluids, such as sweat and blood, from those infected with virus.

Meanwhile, the British medical charity Wellcome Trust and pharmaceuticals giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) said safety trials on an experimental Ebola vaccine are being fast-tracked.

GSK says it plans to build up a stockpile of up to 10,000 doses for emergency deployment if results from the trials, which could begin as soon as next month, are good.


Ebola Virus Disease (EVD)

  • Symptoms include high fever, bleeding and central nervous system damage
  • Spread by body fluids, such as blood and saliva
  • Fatality rate can reach 90% – but current outbreak has mortality rate of about 55%
  • Incubation period is two to 21 days
  • There is no vaccine or cure
  • Supportive care such as rehydrating patients who have diarrhoea and vomiting can help recovery
  • Fruit bats, a delicacy for some West Africans, are considered to be virus’s natural host


Nigeria – ebola spreads to oil centre of Port Harcourt

Ebola spreads to Nigeria oil hub Port Harcourt

A man prepares to take off his protective suit at Biankouma’s hospital during a simulation, on August 14, 2014. More than 240 health workers have been infected with Ebola in West Africa

Nigeria has confirmed its first Ebola death outside Lagos – a doctor in the oil hub of Port Harcourt.

His wife has been put under quarantine, while a further 70 people in the city are under surveillance.

Latest figures show more than 1,550 people have died of Ebola, with at least 3,000 confirmed cases – mostly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that the total number of cases could potentially exceed 20,000.

In an action plan to deal with the outbreak, the WHO said that “the actual number of cases may be 2-4 fold higher than that currently reported” in some areas.

Speaking to reporters, the WHO assistant director-general, Bruce Aylward, said the possibility of 20,000 cases “is a scale that I think has not ever been anticipated in terms of an Ebola outbreak”.

He added: “That’s not saying we expect 20,000… but we have got to have a system in place that we can deal with robust numbers.”

This unprecedented outbreak is currently out of control as medical agencies struggle to cope with the increasing number of cases on the ground and continue to face hostility from communities in certain affected areas, the BBC’s West Africa correspondent Thomas Fessy reports.

Before any results are seen on the ground, the number of infected people will probably continue to grow given that most treatment centres are already operating at full capacity, our correspondent adds.

Vaccine trial
West Africa’s health ministers are meeting in Ghana to discuss how to tackle the world’s most deadly Ebola outbreak.

Meanwhile, an international health consortium says that a trial vaccine against Ebola could be given to healthy volunteers in the UK in September, followed by trials in The Gambia and Mali.

A fruit bat is pictured in 2010 at the Amneville zoo in France. Fruit bats are believed to be a major carrier of the Ebola virus but do not show symptoms
Ebola Virus Disease (EVD)

Symptoms include high fever, bleeding and central nervous system damage
Fatality rate can reach 90% – but current outbreak has mortality rate of about 55%
Incubation period is two to 21 days
There is no vaccine or cure
Supportive care such as rehydrating patients who have diarrhoea and vomiting can help recovery
Fruit bats, a delicacy for some West Africans, are considered to be virus’s natural host
Ebola was taken to Nigeria by Patrick Sawyer, a Liberian-American man who travelled to Lagos before dying.

One of his contacts evaded Nigeria’s surveillance team and travelled to Port Harcourt, where he sought medical treatment, Health Minister Onyebuchi Chukwu said.

Although the man later recovered, the doctor who treated him died and tests showed he had Ebola, the minister said.

The doctor had died last Friday but the results of the tests have only just been announced by the health minister.

The doctor who treated Mr Sawyer also died.

Nigeria schools shut

More than 240 health workers have been infected with Ebola – a rate which the World Health Organization (WHO) said was “unprecedented”.

It noted that in many cases protective suits, even rubber gloves and face masks, were not available.

The doctor becomes the sixth fatality in Nigeria, which is Africa’s most populous country.

On Wednesday, Nigeria announced that schools would not reopen until 13 October in order to try and contain the disease.

Nigerian voices: Ali Sadiq, public servant based in Abuja

“The postponement of the schools’ resumption by the federal government is a good move but the extension is too long. I can’t imagine my two kids wasting six more weeks at home. Two to three weeks would have been enough for all that.”


With an eye on carbon cash, Cameroon boosts forest monitoring


Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation – Thu, 28 Aug 2014 07:30 GMT

A satellite view shows smoke from forest fires in Sumatra blown eastwards to southern Malaysia and Singapore on June 19, 2013. REUTERS/NASA/Handout via Reuters, Cameroon (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Cameroon has set up a national system to monitor forest carbon in an effort to earn carbon cash and protect the country’s expansive but disappearing forests.

DOUALA: According to a 2013 report by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Cameroon lost 4.4 million hectares (10.9 million acres), or 18 percent, of its forest cover between 1990 and 2012.

Experts blame the losses on poor governance and weak law enforcement, resulting in a failure to control logging.

Cameroon’s Minister of Forestry and Wildlife, Ngole Philip Ngwesse, said at the launch of the new monitoring system this month that the satellite surveillance system will reinforce other government measures in place that aim to protect forests, improve their sustainable use and help the country earn added income.

“The forest carbon monitoring system is the hallmark of the plan of action by the government to not only protect the country’s rich forest but also reap significantly from the carbon market,” Ngwesse said.


Cameroon, which has undergone preparations to take part in REDD+, an international effort aimed at “reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation,” could earn as much as $28 million a year from carbon markets by protecting its forests, according to Joseph Armarthe Amougou, the government’s REDD+ expert.

The country’s “REDD readiness” now “enables the country to source finances,” he said. For instance, feasibility studies suggest Cameroon could sell carbon from specific forest zones such as the 700,000 hectare (1.7 million acre) Ngoyla-Mintom forest in the South-east region.

Proceeds from the sale would be shared between the government and local communities, Amougou said.

Cameroon’s new carbon forest monitoring system will be funded by the African Development Bank and the Congo Basin Forest Fund. The trust is a multi-donor fund set up in June 2008 to take early action to protect threatened forests in the Congo Basin region.

Environment and forest experts hailed the new monitoring system, being launched in other countries of the Congo Basin as well, as a way of earning benefits from the REDD+ process to support much-needed development projects such as road, water and energy infrastructure.

“Cameroon needs to generate enough income from the REDD+ process to better empower especially forest dwellers so that they embrace a livelihood that is more sustainable and forest friendly,” said Mai Moussa Abari, country representative for FAO, at the launch.


But a recent report by WWF questions the way forward with REDD+. Over the past five years, “dozens of conferences, hundreds of papers and billions of dollars have been devoted to accelerating REDD+” but these efforts, “are not currently delivering what is required” the report said.

The report notes that potential recipient countries are struggling with the long REDD+ approval process and have no guarantee they will make any money from REDD+, while richer countries have been slow to begin handing over REDD+ money.

Abari, the FAO representative, said the new forest monitoring system will help Cameroon better see and understand how human activity is affecting land use change in the country.

The system uses satellites to keep an eye on deforestation. It will work hand-in-hand with the national forest inventory unit of the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife, Ngwesse said.

The system will allow better monitoring and verification of forest protection – key to proving that forest is still standing and allowing Cameroon to win carbon cash. So-called “avoided deforestation” – the amount of greenhouse gases not emitted as a result of deforestation and forest degradation – can be turned into carbon market credits, Joseph Armathe, who also works on Clean Development Mechanism projects for the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), told Thomson Reuters.

The method is being applied by countries of the Central African Forest Commission (COMIFAC) as part of a recently drafted framework on monitoring and verifying forests for the Congo Basin zone, he said.

“Data collected will also assist national policy makers in reaching informed decisions on the REDD + process,” Armathe said.

According to Achille Momo, a national expert on the monitoring and verification project under the UN-REDD Programme, the forest monitoring system should start by the end of 2014.

The Central African Forest Commission was established in 2005 to act as a regional forum for the conservation and sustainable joint management of forest ecosystems in Central Africa. Country members include Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Chad, Burundi, Sao Tomé and Rwanda.

The new system will join other forest monitoring system earlier put in place by the Cameroon government.

In 2012 Cameroon joined the Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo and Central African Republic in an agreement with the French government and geo-information provider Astrium Services to better protect the fast disappearing Congo Basin Forest using another satellite monitoring system.


But Teodyl Nkuintchua of the Centre for Environment and Development, a Cameroon-based non-governmental organisation, said the government also clearly needs to improve on the laws governing forest exploitation in the country.

“Cameroon needs to seriously reinforce its forestry laws to curb wanton destruction and protect the rights of forest communities. The failure to control abuses will not yield any better results, no matter the good intentions behind reforms already taken,” Teodyl warned.

The FAO, however, says that monitoring is one of the most effective methods of preventing forest crime.

According to an FAO report, close monitoring has drastically slowed forest deforestation in countries like Brazil.

The report says remote monitoring can be used to direct limited number of inspectors on the ground to areas where they need to verify the reliability of reporting by loggers.

As well, “inspections must be allowed on a routine basis, not just when a crime is suspected,” the report stated.

Elias Ntungwe Ngalame is a Cameroon-based freelance writer with an interest in climate change, environmental and governance issues.  AlertNet

West Africa – US health expert says ebola epidemic will get worse


The current outbreak is the deadliest since Ebola was discovered in 1976

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is going to get worse before it gets better, according to the top US public health official.

Tom Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control, said the epidemic would need an “unprecedented” response to bring it under control.

Health ministers from across West Africa are due to meet in Ghana to discuss the growing crisis.

The World Health Organization says the outbreak has killed 1,427 people.

The health body says it is the largest ever Ebola epidemic and has infected an estimated 2,615 people.

Liberia has been hardest-hit of the affected countries, with 624 deaths and 1,082 cases since the start of the year.

Health workers take off their protective suits after finishing disinfecting areas at a hospital in Pita, Guinea - 25 August 2014There have been more than 2,600 confirmed cases of Ebola, with around half of those being deadly

Ebola Virus Disease (EVD)

  • Symptoms include high fever, bleeding and central nervous system damage
  • Fatality rate can reach 90% – but current outbreak has mortality rate of about 55%
  • Incubation period is two to 21 days
  • There is no vaccine or cure
  • Supportive care such as rehydrating patients who have diarrhoea and vomiting can help recovery
  • Fruit bats, a delicacy for some West Africans, are considered to be virus’s natural host

Mr Frieden met Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to discuss ways to fight the disease.

“The cases are increasing. I wish I did not have to say this, but it is going to get worse before it gets better,” he admitted.

“The world has never seen an outbreak of Ebola like this. Consequently, not only are the numbers large, but we know there are many more cases than has been diagnosed and reported,” he added.

He said there was a need for “urgent action” and called on Liberians “to come together” to stop misconceptions that have helped the outbreak spread.

Despite rumours to the contrary, the virus is not airborne and is spread by humans coming into contact with bodily fluids, such as sweat and blood, from those infected with virus.

Health ministers from the Economic Community of West African States will meet in Ghana’s capital Accra on Thursday to discuss the regional response to the crisis.

The extraordinary meeting comes after the African Development Bank warned that the outbreak is causing enormous economic damage to West Africa as foreign businesses quit the region.

Meanwhile, medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) has branded the international response “entirely inadequate”.

Brice de la Vigne, MSF operations director, said efforts to bring the outbreak under control had been far too chaotic.

“It is simply unacceptable that serious discussions are only starting now about international leadership and coordination,” he said.

“Self-protection is occupying the entire focus of states that have the expertise and resources to make a dramatic difference.”  BBC

Nigeria – four army officers interrogated after northern mutiny


Mutiny: Four military officers quizzed

Nigerian Soldiers

Strong indications emerged on Wednesday that the military high command had started taking decisive steps against security personnel involved in acts inimical to the military tradition.

It was gathered on Wednesday that four army officers were arrested for allegedly encouraging some soldiers, who disobeyed a directive on posting to Bama, one of the areas where Nigerian troops are fighting   Boko Haram insurgents.

Mutiny is defined as a situation, in which a group of people such as sailors or soldiers refuse to obey orders and try to take control away from their superiors.

The posting was said to have affected mainly the 21 Armoured Brigade Garrison, Maiduguri in Borno State whose men were said to be on standby for redeployment to Bama.

It was learnt on Wednesday that the posting did not go down well with the men of the unit, who were of the view that the garrison should have been a rear party (support unit) rather than being posted to the area of operation.

Investigations further revealed that the soldiers felt that they were being moved out for the men of the division to take over Maiduguri metropolis.

The soldiers in the units were also said to have complained that they were involved in three operations such as the multinational Joint Task Force, the Joint Task Force in Damaturu, Yobe State and the task force in Mubi, Adamawa State. They believed that they should have been addressed collectively before any such deployment.

A source, who confided in one of our correspondents, said the military authorities became alarmed when some of the soldiers decided not to honour the posting. This made the   military high command to   order the arrest of four of the officers of the formation.

It was learnt the commanders of the 21 Armoured Brigade Garrison in Maiduguri, comprising a Lieutenant Colonel , a Captain and two lieutenants, were arrested two weeks ago .

However, after a thorough process of investigation, the military authorities released the four officers after finding them not guilty of the suspicion that they   had a hand in the reluctance of the troops to leave Maiduguri   for Bama.

It was gathered that the Lieutenant Colonel had been posted   to another unit while the other three officers had been deployed to Bama.

Investigations further revealed that the military leadership had arrested several soldiers, who dropped their guns to desert from the Army.

Although, the source did not give a figure, the soldiers were said to have been moved to Abuja to face interrogation.

The source said the arrested soldiers came from different battalions.

It was, however, gathered that the military authorities were also investigating some soldiers of 195 Batalion, Agenebode, Edo State over the attack on Danboa

The Agenebode battalion which is in charge of Danboa is said to be affected by the issue of desertion in the Army.

A security source said that the military authorities were serious about taking decisive steps against misdemeanours in the ongoing efforts to prevent the troops from being discouraged by deserters.

The source stated that the military leadership was determined to ensure that disobedience and cowardice were not condoned because of their grave implications on the success of the counter-terrorist operation.

One of our correspondents made repeated efforts to speak with the Director of Defence Information, Maj. Gen Chris Olukolade, without success.

As of 8.37pm on Wednesday, he had not responded to an SMS sent to him.

Cameroonian troops kill 27 B’Haram insurgents

Cameroonian soldiers have   killed 27 members of the Islamist group, Boko Haram, near a border town with Nigeria.

Reuters quoted Cameroon’s state radio on Wednesday, saying the insurgents   crossed the border into Cameroon earlier this week, after attacking a military base and police station in Gamboru Ngala in Borno State.

“Cameroon soldiers have killed 27 Boko Haram elements during an attack in a locality near Fotokol in the far-north,” the state radio, CRTV said,.

It added   that the deaths occurred on Monday and Tuesday. There was no word on any Cameroonian casualties.

A Cameroonian soldier in the region said the militants had been pushed back into Nigeria, with calm returning to the area on Wednesday.

In recent weeks, Boko Haram, which is seeking to carve out a de facto Islamic state in northern Nigeria, has stepped up attacks in Cameroon, leading the central African country to increase deployments along its border with Nigeria..

President Paul Biya dismissed two senior army officers last month following attacks in which at least seven people were killed and the wife of the vice prime minister was kidnapped

Insurgents attempt to blow Nigeria-Cameroon bridge

Meanwhile, the insurgents have attempted blowing up a bridge on the Nigerian border with Cameroon after overrunning a town and sending residents as well as soldiers fleeing.

A Cameroonian police officer stationed in   Fotokol told the Agence France Presse that the militants tried on Tuesday to destroy the bridge, which leads to Gamboru Ngala in Borno State.

Three children were reportedly injured by flying shrapnel when explosives were detonated, possibly by firing from the Cameroonian side of the border on Monday.

Copyright PUNCH.

Nigeria closes schools to prevent spread of ebola


Ebola outbreak: Nigeria closes all schools until October

Children at a school in Maiduguri, Nigeria - May 2014Children in Nigeria will be away from school for a further six weeks

All schools in Nigeria have been ordered to remain shut until 13 October as part of measures to prevent the spread of the deadly Ebola virus.

The new academic year was due to start on Monday.

But the education minister ordered the closures to allow staff to be trained on how to handle suspected Ebola cases.

Five people have died of Ebola in Nigeria. The West Africa outbreak has centred on Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, killing more than 1,400 people.

It is the largest ever outbreak and has infected an estimated 2,615 people. About half of those infected have died.

There are many other diseases right now not being attended to because Ebola has overstretched the capacity of the health sector”  Donald Kaberuka AFDB president

It spread to Nigeria – Africa’s most populous country – in July, when a man infected with Ebola flew from Liberia to Lagos.

The head of the African Development Bank (AFDB), Donald Kaberuka, has called on airline companies to restart their services to the worst-affected countries.

Several African countries and airlines have banned flights to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone despite World Health Organization (WHO) advice that travel bans do not work.

Air France has now announced it is suspending flights to Sierra Leone from Thursday, following a request by the French government.

The virus is not airborne and is spread between humans through direct contact with infected bodily fluids.

“It is very important that as you combat Ebola, we also continue to ensure that ordinary economic activity is not disputed,” Mr Kaberuka told BBC Africa on a visit to Sierra Leone.


The Nigerian government says it hopes its efforts to contain the virus are working, as there is only one confirmed case of Ebola remaining.

Nurses wearing protective suits escort a man infected with the Ebola virus to a hospital in Monrovia, Liberia - 25 August 2014The outbreak has overwhelmed struggling health systems in some of the world’s poorest countries
A convoy of rescue vehicles passes the main entrance of the University Hospital Hamburg-Eppendorf in Hamburg, Germany, 27 August 2014 A Senegalese epidemiologist has been flown to Hamburg from Sierra Leone for treatment

“All state ministries of education are to immediately organise and ensure that at least two staff in each school, both private and public, are trained by appropriate health workers,” said Education Minister Ibrahim Shekarau.

Mr Kaberuka said the AFDB had signed an agreement with the WHO to quickly release $60m (£36m) of funds to help with the immediate fight against Ebola.

He described the situation as “cataclysmic” as many health workers were being infected with Ebola.

“It is decimating the health sector,” he said.

“There are many other diseases right now not being attended to because Ebola has overstretched the capacity of the health sector.”

The current outbreak is the deadliest since Ebola was discovered in 1976

On Tuesday, the WHO said the “unprecedented” number of doctors and nurses infected was due to a shortage of protective equipment and staff.

Only one or two doctors are available for 100,000 patients in some of the affected countries.

The bank chief said after the Ebola emergency was over, it was important that these countries health systems were strengthened, which the AFDB could do through budget support.

Meanwhile, a WHO epidemiologist from Senegal who contracted Ebola while working in Sierra Leone has been flown to Hamburg in Germany for treatment.

He had been working at an Ebola testing centre in Kailahun, one of the worst-affected districts in eastern Sierra Leone which is currently under blockade.

The WHO says the laboratory in Kailahun has been temporarily closed.

There have been 392 Ebola deaths in Sierra Leone, according to the latest UN figures released on 22 August.


Ebola Virus Disease (EVD)

A fruit bat is pictured in 2010 at the Amneville zoo in France. Fruit bats are believed to be a major carrier of the Ebola virus but do not show symptoms
  • Symptoms include high fever, bleeding and central nervous system damage
  • Fatality rate can reach 90% – but current outbreak has mortality rate of about 55%
  • Incubation period is two to 21 days
  • There is no vaccine or cure
  • Supportive care such as rehydrating patients who have diarrhoea and vomiting can help recovery
  • Fruit bats, a delicacy for some West Africans, are considered to be virus’s natural host