Home' Australian Pharmacist : Australian Pharmacist September 2014 Contents Australian Pharmacist September 2014 I © Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Ltd.
professionals are among the Ebola
fatalities in Sierra Leone, although
reported numbers vary.
A pharmacist source on the ground
told the International Pharmaceutical
Federation (FIP) early last month that
one pharmacist and four pharmacy
technicians had died, all from the
community pharmacy sector. However,
another report from the Pharmaceutical
Society of Sierra Leone said that there
has been one pharmacy Ebola death
– a pharmacy technician who was
practising in a community pharmacy in
Kenema, one of the disease epicentres.
The outbreak of the virus in West Africa
was declared an ‘extraordinary’ public
health emergency by the World Health
Organization (WHO) on 7 August,
requiring a coordinated international
response to stop its spread.
Luc Besançon, CEO and FIP General
Secretary said: ‘Pharmacists, as the
first point of care for many people,
have an important role to play in such
emergencies, not only in terms of
vigilance but also on a wider scale such
as raising awareness and knowledge
and providing advice to travellers.’
‘All pharmacists, not only those in
affected areas, could potentially play
a part in the coordinated international
response to stop the spread of this virus.’
Pharmacies in Liberia have been
inundated with people wanting to
buy essential medicines after a second
outbreak of the virus. Many are reluctant
to go to hospitals and clinics because
several health workers have become
infected. Pharmacists in affected and
neighbouring countries have been
preparing for the spread of the virus.
The Liberia Medicine and Health
Regulatory Authority is now directing
an ongoing awareness campaign at
pharmacists and dispensers across
The Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana
has warned pharmacists to be alert for
Ebola symptoms and Sierra Leone’s
Ministry of Health held a pharmacy
‘sensitisation meeting’ in collaboration
with the country’s pharmacy board and
the pharmaceutical society. Training
programs based on WHO guidelines
have been conducted in Sierra Leone.
However, it has also been reported to
FIP that some pharmaceutical outlets
where the outbreak is seriously affecting
healthcare workers have closed.
A spokesman from the Pharmaceutical
Society of Sierra Leone said that
activities to educate both pharmacy
professionals on basic preventive
measures, identification and prompt
referral of suspected cases are being
undertaken. Public campaigns are
also being run on the proper use of
disinfectants and hand sanitisers.
‘We currently have a lot of chlorine and
chlorine-containing products... being
used by the general public as a means of
antisepsis. We realised that the general
public was wrongly mixing the chlorine
and thereby exposing themselves to the
toxic effects of the chlorine or having
too little of the chlorine in the mixture,
which mitigates against its proper
antiseptic functions. So we engaged all
pharmacy professionals and pharmacy
business owners on how to properly use
the chlorine-containing preparations
and other disinfectants against the virus.
Currently we have teams going around
towns and teaching the general public
on how to properly mix the chlorine for
public hand washing,’ he said.
A WHO fact sheet (visit: www.who.
int/csr/disease/ebola/en/) on the
• The incubation period of Ebola virus
disease (EBV) varies between two and
• Direct contact with infected persons
or their body fluids/secretions
(considered the principal mode of
transmission) should be avoided.
There is no risk of transmission during
the incubation period and low risk in
the early phase of symptoms.
• Risk of tourists and businessmen/
women returning from affected areas
in a country becoming infected with
Ebola virus is ‘extremely low’. The WHO
also describes risks for other groups
including those visiting friends and
relatives and healthcare workers.
• Returning visitors from affected areas
should be alert to symptoms such
sudden onset of fever, weakness,
muscle pain, headache and sore
throat (early stage) within three
weeks of leaving the area. Later stage
symptoms include vomiting,
diarrhoea, rash, impaired liver and
kidney function and internal and
• Effective disinfectant is a dilution
of sodium hypochlorite at 0.05%
or 500 ppm available chlorine with
a recommended contact time of
• When within one metre of patients
with EBV, healthcare workers should
wear face protection (face shield or
mask plus goggles), a long-sleeved
gown and gloves.
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