If you're worried about Ebola...
- Don’t waste time reblogging those alarmist and hysterical posts about how dumb the US is for taking in the two US Ebola patients. They’re full of misinformation, and frankly, selfish. First of all, those two are healthcare workers who caught the virus- not careless tourists. Secondly, if you are in the US or have the fortune to live in a developed country, you are not the ones in trouble. The people in West Africa are the ones in trouble. They- and the doctors voluntarily risking their lives- have to face Ebola with just a fraction of the medicines, technology, life support machines and without the UV decontamination tubes, airlocks and chemical showers available in the US.
- Although there is no cure, a number of African patients have survived with prompt and early treatment. This is a terrible disease but it IS possible to survive. That is why the Americans are being evacuated- their chances will be much better in a well-equipped hospital. Treatment mainly consists of supportive care- such as providing the patient with bed rest, hydration, fluids and transfusions to compensate for blood loss, vomiting and diarrhea, as well as antibiotics to prevent co-infections. The patient’s immune system must ultimately fight off the virus- and supportive treatment is crucial to keeping the patient alive long enough for that to happen by ensuring they don’t dehydrate or bleed to death.
- Yes, do practice good hygiene and be vigilant. I mean I think it’s natural that everyone feels unnerved. Ebola isn’t a laughing matter at all. But let’s get some perspective. Why get hysterical about being doomed because the two American Ebola patients are going to be escorted back in a specially-modified quarantine plane to a hospital that has a CDC-approved high-tech isolation ward specifically designed to contain pathogens like Ebola? The US is a thousand times better matched for Ebola compared to the overburdened doctors in the epicentre of the outbreak- and taking two patients off their hands will be a great help.
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF or Doctors Without Borders) is a non-profit organisation of doctors and healthcare workers from all over the world who have operated in conflict zones and poor countries to provide basic and emergency medical services since 1971. Their main website is here.
Right now, they are one of the major charities on the frontlines of the ongoing Ebola outbreak. MSF’s work is incredibly important because this is the first time Ebola has shown up in West Africa- most previous outbreaks all began in Central Africa. Hence, governments and hospitals in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea (the three countries affected), which already don’t have an advanced healthcare system, simply do not have the expertise to deal with this on their own.
Don’t spend your energy worrying about the US Ebola patients infecting people here. Spend your energy worrying about the people there and do what you can to help by donating or spreading information. Because what the US has and the doctors in West Africa have is like night and day.
Ebola is considered a Bio Safety Level-4 (BSL-4) pathogen- the most dangerous rank for extremely lethal diseases with no cure or vaccine. This is what any US CDC scientist handling a BSL-4 pathogen wears. See the coiled tube that looks like a telephone cord? That’s a separate oxygen supply so they don’t even breathe the same air as the room.
These are MSF healthcare workers tending to Ebola patients. You can see they have done their best with what they had to ensure the surfaces can be cleaned, but the protection they have is nowhere as good as those CDC doctors, and they are dealing with the virus not in vials or containment cabinets- but EVERYWHERE, with patients sweating, bleeding and vomiting profusely. Unlike in US hospitals, there’s no air-conditioning in most of these places, so just imagine how hot these suits get in a tropical climate. The doctors lose litres of water wearing them and need water breaks just to ensure they’re properly rehydrated. In most places, they don’t have enough suits or any BSL-4 decontamination showers so they’ve had to burn the badly contaminated suits, and put some of the other stuff like gloves and boots in the sun and hope it kills the virus so they can be reused.
This is a room in the Emory Hospital isolation ward, where the sick Americans will be sent
This is the makeshift Ebola treatment ward MSF has had to set up in the capital of Guinea. Yes, there are hospitals in the affected African countries- but the level of decontamination and quarantine technology they have is NOWHERE near the Bio Safety Level-4 standard facilities Emory Hospital or the CDC has. (Not many countries around the world even have such facilities.) In rural areas- where it’s believed the outbreaks began, they don’t even have access to proper healthcare or a consistent supply of clean running water- otherwise- the virus is actually killed easily by disinfectants or UV ray decontamination.
See the difference? If Ebola spreads around the world, it’s probably not going to be via the already carefully watched and strictly quarantined US Ebola patients, but because the doctors battling it in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea aren’t able to stamp out the outbreak. It’ll more likely spread through an unsuspecting tourist or businessman on a perfectly legitimate passport getting on a commercial flight to another continent- if everyone doesn’t help to put it out at its source. So, spare a thought for those really in the line of fire and help them however you can.
Again, please consider DONATING to Doctors Without Borders here (UK site) or here (US site). The site doesn’t really matter as you can donate no matter what country you’re from- the form is easy to fill up. Even if it’s a small amount, that donation is gonna buy another pair of gloves or boots or a protective suit.