Global & Disaster Medicine

A yound physician on Ebola duty in Africa: Her story.


“…..What does the center look like?

It’s our standard set-up for an Ebola treatment center. Tents are the most rapid thing we can put up. They are very large, 47-square-meter tents, divided into different zones, with toilets, showers, orange fencing. It’s a very nice structure.

Do you run a test to see if someone who’s sick actually has Ebola before admitting them to the center?

We don’t wait for test results. We start treating [suspected Ebola] patients as soon as they enter the treatment center.

What kind of treatments?

We give anti-malaria treatment, antibiotics and then symptomatic treatment as well as hydration, fever and nausea management. With Ebola you give the maximum you can in terms of supportive care. If the person gets a negative result [from the lab test] and is not an Ebola case and they’re still sick, we send them to the hospital for proper care…..

The taking of the sample is exactly the same as for any nurse who does a blood sample anywhere — but be very, very careful with the needle. Make sure you have all your materials with you before start, then just take a normal blood sample. What’s different is the way we send it to the lab.

What’s the procedure?

First when we take the blood [container] and decontaminate it — spray it with chlorine, then put it in another container sprayed with chlorine, then put it in a third container that’s sprayed before it goes to the lab.

When it gets to the lab, the lab technician is in the low-risk zone, sitting behind plexiglass. And in the plexiglass are two gloves that go into high-risk zone. So the lab tech’s hands go into the gloves and they’re manipulating [the blood sample] in the high-risk zone………”

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