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CDC's Frieden: 'We Need to Rethink' Approach to Ebola

CDC's Frieden: 'We Need to Rethink' Approach to Ebola
Center for Disease Control (CDC) head Dr. Thomas Frieden. (Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)

By    |   Tuesday, 14 October 2014 07:46 AM

Medical experts are considering whether suspected Ebola patients should be sent to designated centers that have particular expertise in treating the highly infectious disease, The New York Times reported.

Nina Pham, a 26-year-old nurse at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, became infected after helping to care for Thomas Eric Duncan, who died of Ebola last week.

Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said "We have to rethink how we address infection control, because even a single infection is unacceptable," The Wall Street Journal reported.

If substantial numbers of new Ebola cases arise, patients are likely to be transferred to designated centers equipped to treat the disease, said David Pigott, a professor of medicine at the University of Alabama, the Journal reported.

Emory University Hospital in Atlanta; the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland; Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha; and St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula, Montana, have biocontainment units equipped to isolate patients with hazardous infectious diseases. Other major medical centers could also deal with Ebola, said infectious disease expert Bruce Ribner, the Times reported.

Ribner said initial Ebola symptoms can mislead hospital staff about the severity of the disease.

"Usually, an individual is not sick for three to five days after the onset of symptoms, which will fool you. You say, 'Oh, you're not going to be that sick.' Then, around Day 5 to 7, they really crash."

He added, "Their blood pressure goes down, they become stuporous to unresponsive, and they start to have renal and liver failure. This correlates with the enormous viral load, which is just attacking every organ in the body," according to the Times.

As patients become sicker, Ribner said, they also become increasingly contagious. All the while they are losing fluids from diarrhea and vomiting.

The very substantial amount of fluid excreted, with each tiny drop loaded with exceedingly high concentrations of the virus, makes Ebola so hazardous.

Ebola has exponentially more viral particles in a teaspoon of blood than untreated HIV or untreated hepatitis C, according to the Times.

Not every hospital has the capability or desire to treat Ebola patients in light of the scrupulous precautions staff need to take when donning and removing protective clothing, as well as the logistical challenges of transporting blood samples and disposing of medical waste, the Times reported.

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Medical experts are considering sending suspected Ebola patients to designated centers with particular expertise in treating the highly infectious disease.
Ebola, hospitals, CDC, infectious disease
Tuesday, 14 October 2014 07:46 AM
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