Despite the fact that a health care worker who treated the Ebola patient who recently died had full protective gear they have been diagnosed with Ebola. How could they catch it, is it easier to catch than at first thought?
We’ve been told all along by CDC spokespersons and those from other medical groups that Ebola is difficult to catch, not airborne, nor something you could catch unless the infected person was actually showing symptoms.
So, was this all a lie to make us feel better? Or is there a simpler explanation?
All the evidence is that the spokespeople have been completely honest and accurate in the way they describe Ebola and how communicable it is.
The Doctors Without Borders who have treated most of the nearly 5,500 people infected with Ebola in Africa have been almost entirely free from infections themselves with only one case of a Doctors Without Borders worker getting Ebola.
Science 3 October 2014:
Vol. 346 no. 6205 pp. 17-18
Unfortunately part of what the spokespeople have been saying isn’t true, and that is that any U.S. hospital which has an infectious disease ward can deal with Ebola patients in perfect safety.
That is apparently not true. Although the protective gear said to be necessary and sufficient to protect health care workers is both, it must be used properly and that means several days of training and strict adherence to the protocols.
What likely happened in Dallas is that the people working with the Ebola patient, at least the one who later showed up with the infection, violated the protocol accidentally, either not being completely covered, or having a tear in their protective garments, or simply by not properly removing the gear after leaving the patient.
The Ebola outbreak had sickened 375 health care workers and killed 211 by the end of September, according to the World Health Organization.
Many of them deny the thought that they became infected treating Ebola patients, most feel they contracted the disease though contact with sick people who had not yet been diagnosed and placed in isolation. Often, people going to the clinics lie about symptoms even saying they were in a vehicle crash so health care workers are exposed many times while not using protective gear.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently sponsored a three day Ebola protection seminar in a hot outdoor camp in Alabama, an old Army base. Science reports, “CDC’s Michael Jhung, who is leading the program, says nearly every trainee had breaches of protocol, such as skin showing.”
The workers in Dallas lacked such rigorous training and it is highly likely they became exposed due to this lack of experience with the protocols and equipment.
The bottom line is that it is still extremely difficult to catch Ebola even from someone who is actively showing signs of the disease.
But the Dallas incident has shown that hospitals must have extensive training and that those who work with Ebola patients should probably be isolated from treating other patients for 21 days following their last exposure to the sick patient, as extreme as that sounds.
My book on Ebola, “Ebola Protecting Your Family – What You Need to Know NOW!”