Ebola claims the lives of over 120 health workers

Ebola claims the lives of over 120 health workers

Dr Michael Jacobs, clinical director of infectious diseases at the Royal Free hospital in Hampstead, north London, one of the doctors treating Will Pooley in a specialist isolation unit, said he was doing well, describing him as a "resilient and remarkable young man".Pooley, a 29-year-old nurse from Eyke in Suffolk, was flown back to the UK by the RAF on Sunday after contracting Ebola while volunteering at a treatment centre for people with the deadly virus in Kenema, Sierra Leone. He is the first British national to be infected with Ebola.

At a press conference at the hospital, Jacobs said: "We had the opportunity to give him the ZMapp treatment. It is an experimental medicine, we made that absolutely clear in our discussions with him." He said that it was too early to say how Pooley was responding but he had not shown any side-effects from the drug.The Department of Health had apparently been trying to obtain supplies of ZMapp, but the manufacturer said high demand meant it had no remaining stocks. Jacobs said the team treating the nurse had sourced the drug through its clinical networks with the help of international colleagues. Pooley, who fell ill after five weeks volunteering at the Kenema government hospital, made the ultimate decision to take the drug, expressing enthusiasm at the prospect, said Jacobs.

Meanwhile the WHO has revealed that the latest Ebola outbreak is remarkable in that a high proportion of doctors, nurses, and other health care workers who have been infected.The WHO blames shortages of personal protective equipment including essentials such as face masks and gloves, or the improper use of protective equipment, far too few medical staff for such a large outbreak, and the compassion that causes medical staff to work in isolation wards far beyond the number of hours recommended as safe.

To date, more than 240 health care workers have developed the disease in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone, and more than 120 have died. The WHO says Ebola has taken the lives of prominent doctors in Sierra Leone and Liberia, depriving these countries not only of experienced and dedicated medical care but also of inspiring national heroes.Even in dedicated Ebola wards the WHO says personal protective equipment is often scarce or not being properly used. The WHO estimates that, in the three hardest-hit countries, only one to two doctors are available to treat 100,000 people, and these doctors are heavily concentrated in urban areas.

By Mark Gould,


On Medica, Wednesday 27 August 2014


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