31 October

The Ebola epidemic has been a serious concern globally for the past few months. However, it is not until very recently that the virus had started to spread to the US. Cases have plastered our TV Screens and Internet pages for cases of persons who were infected with the disease.

Although we can be sure some of the coverage could be down to moral panic, what is very real and true, is the severity of the disease. The disease has been in the African continent since 1976, and remains a problem today. There is still no known cure, only aggressive treatment, trials, and quarantine for infected patients.

The most recent case story to cover the news we found here.

Two nurses, Nina Pham and Amber Vinson, in the US caught the disease when treating Thomas Eric Duncan. Although Duncan himself did not survive the disease, and treatment was unsuccessful, the nurses did indeed survive.

What we want to question is; would you risk your life too? Is it in the job description, or simply human nature?

Here at Primary Care Professionals we invest a lot of time in our Doctors and Nurses, ensuring they are treated well and feel happy, and safe within their jobs. What shocked us about this particular story was the reason used for the spread of this disease. It has been stated:

‘Healthcare workers are using protective clothing such as full-body suits and goggles, but hundreds have still died.’[1]

However in this case:

‘Nurses working at the hospital have said they were given little guidance and inadequate protective clothing to deal with the infection.’[2]

Therefore it is reasonable to say the risk factor was incredibly higher, yet, both nurses still committed to their jobs. Although, it has been said that any successful treatments or vaccinations are given to healthcare workers first. It is down to our Doctors and Nurses to continue to save our lives, and relieve patients of their pain to the best of their ability? If they are not well, or suffer themselves, then how can further patients be helped? What is shocking about this case, is the treatment of these nurses and the apparent lack of guidance when dealing with this worldwide disease.

But what would you do? Surely, it is human instinct to help one another?

Duncan himself caught the virus[3] from helping an infected 19 year old, pregnant woman with whom he house shared with in Liberia. She too died, as did fellow members of her family, but it did not stop him from trying, and risking his own life.

We are lucky enough in our countries to be treated. To have the abilities, funding and staff to attempt to save and secure as many lives as possible. Those in Liberia and other African Countries have not – for the most part – been as lucky.

Yet Nurses still took the risk to help save another man’s life, regardless of being, or feeling fully equipped in their position. We are sure many nurses would too vouch for this. The nature of a nurse is to care, and selflessly look after their patients.

What we can think about is, is the question really on the threat of the US citizenships? Or is it on the nature of how we care for one another?

Here at Primary Care Professionals, the office discussed this piece ourselves, and we felt it admirable anyone would risk their life for another, especially regarding such a deadly disease. Which reiterates for us the fundamental work of nurses who work on these cases.

We are not alone in this thinking either;

‘Mr Obama has praised healthcare workers’ ongoing response to the medical crisis, saying they are doing “God’s work” and their efforts must be supported.’[4]

There is one thing funding the money for Ebola and testing treatments, but nurses do not have that answer or job in their hands, they are simply there to help no matter the case, and we appreciate their care.
We’d still like to hear what you think! Please share your thoughts and comments with us.

Facts for you:

  • Symptoms include high fever, bleeding and central nervous system damage
  • Spread by body fluids, such as blood and saliva
  • Fatality rate can reach 90% – but current outbreak has mortality rate of about 70%
  • Incubation period is two to 21 days
  • There is no proven vaccine or cure
  • Supportive care such as rehydrating patients who have diarrhoea and vomiting can help recovery
  • Fruit bats, a delicacy for some West Africans, are considered to be virus’s natural host

[1] BBC News, (2014). Ebola basics: What you need to know. [online] Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-29556006 [Accessed 31 Oct. 2014].

[2] BBC News, (2014). Could the virus spread in the US?. [online] Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-29453719 [Accessed 31 Oct. 2014].

[3] Mobile.nytimes.com, (2014). U.S. Patient Aided Pregnant Liberian, Then Took Ill – NYTimes.com. [online] Available at: http://mobile.nytimes.com/2014/10/02/world/africa/ebola-victim-texas-thomas-eric-duncan.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&smid=tw-nytimes&_r=1&referrer= [Accessed 31 Oct. 2014].

[4] BBC News, (2014). Could the virus spread in the US?.

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