Doctors in US, Africa Work to Contain Future Ebola Outbreaks

VOA Wednesday 23rd November, 2016

doctors in us, africa work to contain future ebola outbreaks

Warnings about bushmeat

Dr. Williams said another important lesson learned from the outbreak was the need to have community participation and support. He warns against the risks posed by bushmeat, meat from wild animals and birds, which was banned during the epidemic but is now back in the market place.

“Bushmeat is an issue,’ he said. ‘It’s actually a bigger issue for the person who’s preparing the meat, because that person is going to be in contact with the body fluids of that animal.’

Ebola is not spread by food, according to the CDC, but some human infections have been associated with hunting. Infections also come from processing meat from infected animals, both domesticated and wild.

As the world focuses on other threats, hospitals in the U.S. are not sitting on their hands. Dr. Colleen Kraft is with Emory University hospital, which treated four U.S. patients infected with the Ebola virus. She recalled some of those moments.

‘The day varied depending on the severity of the illness. On a day where the patient was recovering and doing well, it was a lot less anxiety and tension,’ Dr. Kraft said. ‘At the height of the critical illness of our third patient, Dr. Ian Crozier, those days were very intense.’ Dr. Crozier, a physician from Emory who contracted a severe case of Ebola in West Africa, has recovered after months of treatment.

US hospitals’ preparedness

Dr. Kraft says all her current work is associated with Ebola, something she would not have expected earlier in her career.

“Nebraska, Emory and Bellevue (hospitals) are all in one group called NETEC, which is the national Ebola and training education center,’ she told VOA. ‘Essentially we are tasked with training, educating, exercising and visiting every hospital in the U.S. that is preparing to take care of a patient with the Ebola virus.

‘So we are now spending a lot of our time working on preparedness. Just like our hospital spent 10 years preparing, we are now doing it for others.’

Not everyone who contracted Ebola died, but the survivors have suffered, too. Like Sekou Kondiano, from Guinea, and his spouse, whose lives were shattered financially.

“Since I got out of the hospital,’ Kondiano said, ‘it has taken me a year to get my strength back, and the little savings we had are gone.”

Another lesson learned from the outbreak, Dr. Williams said, is that that without health there is no development. ‘It was scary driving around the capital cities of Freetown (Sierra Leone) and Monrovia and seeing very little going on. All business and commercial activities ceased. But I think all the countries are looking into ways in which they can improve their GDP output again.’

Affected countries and organizations around the world dedicated unprecedented resources to combat the deadliest outbreak in history. But continuing watchfulness for new infections, efficient and rapid tracing of all of an infected patients contacts, and good laboratory science are some of the main factors that are key to successfully controlling future outbreaks.

Sierra Leone Times 23rd November 2016

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