The challenge of stopping Ebola when it keeps killing doctors

Ebola - Photo by Thomas W. Geisbert

Daniel Bausch knows his way around an outbreak. The bald, grizzled doctor with Tulane University has traveled throughout Latin America, Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, battling terrifying viruses from SARS to Ebola. He advises bigwigs at the World Health Organization, United Nations and the National Institutes of Health. He pumps out research article after research article on Ebola.

But even Bausch, for all his experience and expertise, had never seen anything like this. On a recent July day at a Sierra Leone hospital in Kenema, he found himself amid 55 patients infected with Ebola. Bausch, except for one other doctor, was alone. The nurses, according to a Reuters report, had vanished. They wanted higher pay to take care of Ebola patients and, after several of them became sick themselves, had gone home.

“This is for sure the worst situation I’ve ever seen,” he told Reuters. “…None of us expected to have as many healthcare workers get sick as we did.” Ten staff had gotten sick with Ebola during his three weeks at the ward. “There were times when nurses were getting sick and I thought, ‘We have to close this ward,’ but that’s just not an option.”

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