There are several key developments in Ebola-world — some good, some not so good.
For starters, the first case of Ebola has hit America’s biggest city. New York City announced that an emergency room physician who just returned from Guinea fell ill within the past 24 hours, and he has been placed in isolation at Bellevue. The doctor, Craig Spencer, returned from Guinea to NYC on the 17th, and became achy and feverish Thursday (the 23rd).
In the meantime, the doctor had not seen any patients but did have close contact with several people … as well as riding the subway and going bowling. Right now, health authorities are analyzing his movements — as well as potential public contacts — by analyzing his Metro (subway) card; his credit card; as well as his cellphone.
It doesn’t sound as if the risk for the city is high, but does make you wonder if any health care workers who work in western Africa should be self-quarantined for at least 21 days upon return to the States.
On the other hand, some good news about Nina Pham, one of the nurses who provided care to an Ebola patient in Dallas. She is being released Friday from the NIH, where she received specialty care.
She is now virus-free, completely recovered and able to do whatever she wishes. I’m sure she will need several weeks to get her strength and sea-legs back. Her dog Bentley, by the way, did test negative for the virus, and is probably ready for a long awaited reunion.
Nina did receive experiential treatment at the NIH, but what that treatment was is unknown.
In the world of treatment, labs are hammering 24/7 to develop treatments, such as Z-Mapp (of which supplies have been exhausted). Patients have also received blood from Ebola patients who have recovered. The news on the vaccine front is that trials and experiments on vaccines will begin in January, with hundreds of thousands of doses being available by July 2015.
Finally, if you’ve ever wondered just how Tabasco sauce is being used in the fight against Ebola, it is actually being used as a training aid.
The stuff is hot as can be — and is probably more anti-viral than bleach — but health care workers are using it as they practice removing those personal protective spacesuits worn while providing care to an Ebola patient.
The sauce is liberally doused on a mannequin-patient, then when the health care worker disrobes after caring for the “patient,” a burning sensation to the skin gives the bad news that there was a mistake in taking off the bulky suit, and that the health care worker contaminated his/herself.
If you think it can’t be that hard to remove these suits, think again. This YouTube video below, courtesy of Emory University, shows how long and how difficult it is to do things exactly right.
One minor mistake can mean infection. Emory is one of the specialized centers for Ebola care, and this video will show you that providing that care requires extreme caution—without shortcuts.
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