West Africa Ebola news

It seems that the light has finally come on for epidemiologists and other medical responders.  Not too long ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) sent teams to West Africa to try to get control over the outbreak in progress.

News reports now say that the State Department has contracted an order for 5000 body bags to be delivered to Liberia and is seeking bids for 160,000 hazmat suits.  The body bags were reportedly ordered around August 19th as the death toll was climbing into the four digit range.

The U.S. Agency for International Development ordered 5,000 body bags from a Florida company last month as part of its planned response to an outbreak of the Ebola virus in western Africa.

And as President Obama prepares to enlarge America’s aid to affected countries, a company that makes protective clothing says the State Department, which oversees USAID, has invited bids for 160,000 hazmat suits.

The body-bag purchase came on August 19, just after the World Health Organization said the epidemic had killed 1,000 people. That death toll is now greater than 2,400.

The size of the contracts indicates how seriously governments are taking the threat, especially considering that all 5,000 body bags were destined only for Liberia – one of three countries whose citizens have been hammered with new disease cases and paralyzed with fear.

Source:  Daily Mail Online

The bid seeking for the hazmat suits has sparked all kinds of concern from people all over.  When writing this post, the application that I use to highlight related articles keyed on the hazmat suits, and the websites listed runs the table of prepper and survivalist postings.  I think it’s something to be concerned with to an extent, but I’m not ready to suggest people head to the bunkers and go into lockdown just yet.

Understanding the differences in conditions gives me reason to have concern without any feelings of panic.  For example, Nancy Writebol was transported to the airport in Liberia in a pickup truck with a tarp as a cover.  In the US, she was transported in a specially equipped ambulance wearing a completely enclosed hazmat suit.  Medical supplies that we take for granted here like gloves and masks are not commonplace in West Africa, and the medical staff has to be trained on how to properly use them to protect themselves.

The numbers of people infected and dying are still increasing and will likely do so for a while.  The CDC has also sent out warnings and preparation lists to medical providers to prepare them for the possibility of having to deal with Ebola here in America.  In addition, President Obama is traveling here to Atlanta in a visit to the CDC checking on preparations and actions being taken to combat the outbreak.

Lost in all the reporting about the West Africa outbreak is the climbing number of cases in the unrelated outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Stay tuned for updates as things continue to progress…

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8 thoughts on “West Africa Ebola news

  1. Medical supplies that we take for granted here like gloves and masks are not commonplace in West Africa, and the medical staff has to be trained on how to properly use them to protect themselves.

    Plus, you need practice in order to make it second-nature. If you do something once or twice in training, but then don’t do it again until you really *need* to, several years later, you’ve likely forgotten a lot of the finer points of the procedure.

    I don’t know if medical professionals do this, but when I was in the Army, many moons ago, there was something called Common Task Testing (CTT). Each year,about 20 items from a large list of basic and ‘common’ tasks were selected, and all soldiers got tested on them. If you failed some, no worries — you’d receive refresher training and be retested until you got it right.

    The tasks were usually things you didn’t do every day, like getting into full NBC (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical) protective gear within 5 minutes, deploying and recovering a Claymore mine, treating a fellow soldier for a sucking chest wound or the like — but the key is that they were all important tasks that you could very well need to know in a tight spot on the battlefield. Thus the repeat training each year.

    I wonder if the medical professions do anything like that, especially for first responders. Do we have any knowledgeable folks here who can sound off on that?

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    • We don’t have to do proficiency tests like that, but then again, we have the option to wear gloves anytime we choose to. If the situation requires tyvek suits, we’re hauling ass out of the way.

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  2. I see on news websites today that Obama is committing 3000 troops to the battle against Ebola. Finally, we’re sending troops to combat an enemy that poses more than a theoretical threat to this country!

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    • I’m having trouble finding specifics, but from what little I’m able to find, it seems that a good portion of the troops will be transportation and logistics specialists, plus at least a small infantry or MP element to provide security for the supplies and medical aid workers.

      The White House states that there will be medical trainers, engineers (to help construct facilities) and a detachment of commissioned Public Health Service officers; the PHC officers will set up a clinic for treating healthcare workers who contract Ebola.

      http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/09/16/fact-sheet-us-response-ebola-epidemic-west-africa

      ABC says that we’re not sending military physicians, which suggests to me that we’re mostly sending troops to perform support functions for groups like Doctors Without Borders and the like.

      http://abcnews.go.com/Health/us-military-combat-ebola-africa/story?id=25537708

      I’m certainly hopeful that this additional support will help turn the tide against the growing outbreak.

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      • I think some CDC and PHS docs are going over, and I’m guessing the troops will mostly support them. And maybe, as you say, the NGOs who have been in the thick of it.

        I’ve always liked and supported MSF, but after what they’ve done this summer, they’re my heroes.

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    • There are daily flights to many major cities in the US from West Africa. We’re at the mercy of their screening procedures, and I hope they’re getting the necessary training and information to do a thorough job.

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  3. I don’t know anymore about this than anybody else but it appears that they’re getting out in front on the situation. Hopefully, that’s the case. More people are going to die from it but the sooner they get started, the quicker they can get it under control. No matter, when you start, you should have started sooner but so far, it looks like this is being well handled.

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