Thursday, September 04, 2014

cdc director: window is closing on containing ebola

thedailybeast |  At a press conference Tuesday, CDC Director Tom Frieden warned that time is running out to contain West Africa’s Ebola outbreak.

Days after returning from West Africa, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Thomas Frieden opened a press conference with a sobering admonition about the effort to contain the Ebola epidemic to West Africa: “The window is closing.”

In an impassioned call to action, he urged American doctors, nurses, and health care professionals to join Africa in its fight. “This isn’t just the countries’ problem,” he said. “It’s a global problem.” With vivid detail, Frieden painted a gruesome picture of overcrowded isolation centers in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, where health care workers are struggling to keep up with “basic care.” He mentioned deficiencies not only in the number of doctors, nurses, and health managers available, but the protective gear needed to keep them safe. Without an immediate change in the current landscape, he said, the worst is yet to come. “The level of outbreak is beyond anything we’ve seen—or even imagined,” Frieden said.

At one particular 35-bed facility, Frieden described the chilling sight of more than three-dozen Ebola patients without beds, left with no other place to fight their infections but the floor. The health care workers, too, face “distressing” conditions. “Roasting hot” personal protective gear including robes, masks, boots, and goggles, make simply drawing an IV a near impossible task. “It is very difficult to move…sweats pours into goggles, [the health workers] see the enormous need but the great risk, too,” he said.

But even more alarming than the disturbing images, was the lack of outside support. “The most upsetting thing I saw was what I didn’t see,” he said. “No data from countries where it’s spreading, no rapid response teams, no trucks, a lack of efficient management,” he said. “I could not possibly overstate the need for an urgent response.”