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Insights: Ebola Doctors Explain Why Only Sickest Should Seek Hospitals

May 04, 2017 00:00 AM UTC
- Updated May 05, 2020 16:33 PM UTC

A number of patients were infected with Ebola while in clinics awaiting tests to come back when they didn't have the disease.

[MUSIC PLAYING] NAHID BHADELIA: Anyone who was working in the field in summer 2014 was not surprised by either the fact that the mortality was high as it was or the fact that the epidemic was out of control, because really, the way you control it epidemic is to isolate people who have disease, you quarantine people who are exposed to it, and you make sure more people don't get exposed to it. But we didn't have enough beds to isolate people in Ebola treatment units. And here's the crazy thing. People would come to the Ebola treatment unit because they fit the clinical description of Ebola. Clinical description of the Ebola is fever, nausea, vomiting, for the most part that's how people presented. Everything looks like fever, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea in West Africa. And so you would put people with malaria, you had people with typhoid into the suspect ward, wait until they're confirmed, and then put them in the confirmed ward. It took about three days to get laboratory results back. So people were sitting around. If they didn't have Ebola before, we gave them Ebola in ETU-- in Ebola treatment units until they left, then got sick in their communities. And just the dearth of care and the mortality in expats was less than 25%, people who were returning responders who got sick who were brought back. The mortality in most ETUs were 60% to 70%. And yes, somewhere in between maybe expats are a little healthier and things like that. But that was a description of how where you're born decides how you die of a disease. And it was really the lack of resources, I think, more than anything else. [MUSIC PLAYING]