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Nurses and Ebola

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Ebola Back in the Headlines

Ebola recently spread into Uganda. The article discusses the nurses' role in the USA in helping treat Ebola.

Nurses and Ebola

Ebola is back in the headlines. With a new outbreak that has spread beyond the borders of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) into neighboring Uganda, fear has spread along with it. As the local communities in the DRC work diligently to halt the spread of the vicious Ebola virus, they are getting help from abroad from a variety of sources, including the United Nations (UN) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Hampering their efforts is the ongoing violence in the DRC against aid workers and treatment facilities. Since the first case was diagnosed on August 1, 2018, there have been 198 attacks, destroying facilities and making treatment much more difficult. 

On July 31, 2019, the WHO and the UN issued the following statement:


“In the last year, there have been more than 2,600 confirmed cases, including more than 1,800 deaths…almost one in three cases is a child. Every single case is someone who has gone through an unimaginable ordeal. More than 770 have survived. The disease is relentless and devastating.”

On the Eve of 1-Year Mark, WHO Calls Ebola in DRC 'Relentless'

5 Years Since First Case of Ebola Treated in Atlanta

Many remember five years ago, August 2,  when Kent Brantly, MD, who treated Ebola in Liberia became infected. He was air-lifted to Atlanta and was the first Ebola patient successfully treated at the Serious Communicable Disease Unit (SCDU). In addition to Brantly, three others were treated successfully and have recovered. 

Nurse Heroes in Ebola Care

Caring for the ebola victims of 2014 was a learning experience for all the staff of Emory’s special unit. Together they perfected the donning and duffing of protective equipment (the most dangerous part of the process for healthcare workers). Nurse Jill Morgan, BSN, RN, who works in intensive care at Emory, became, in her own words, “A warrior for personal protection that works for bedside nurses.” Sharing her expertise with others, she perfected a system of removing gloves. She also emphasizes the importance of providing care “with a buddy system,” where healthcare workers watch each other and help one another not break technique. 

Nurses and others caring for Ebola victims were inspired by Susan Grant, then chief nurse executive of Emory Healthcare. She wrote in an article for the Washington Post, “We can fear, or we can care.” Emory University Hospital and system took their role as leaders in the fight against Serious Communicable Diseases and did what they could to help make it a national learning experience by posting their progress on websites almost immediately. They pioneered the more interventional care of Ebola patients, using ventilators, dialysis and other intensive care processes to treat the multiplicity of symptoms brought on by Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).

A nurse in Texas who contracted Ebola five years ago, Amber Vinson, RN, still works as a nurse. In this month’s Emory Magazine she says, “I learned the importance of providing clear, simple information about diseases, transmission, and treatment to the public. The lack of public knowledge was a challenge. Fear made some encounters difficult.” (p23)

What is Ebola Exactly?

First identified in 1976 near the Ebola River in the DRC, Ebola continues to surface intermittently in sub-Saharan Africa. It starts with fever, and severe flu-like symptoms of high fever, muscle pain, debilitating viral symptoms which then progress to vomiting, diarrhea and bleeding disorders. Dehydration can be rapid and deadly in countries with less established advanced medical care. With a survival rate that averages out at about 50%, it is extremely deadly and contagious with a long incubation period  (2-21 days and maybe more) which allows for people to spread the disease widely before showing signs of illness. Routine monitoring to determine onset of disease involves taking the exposed person’s temperature. Routinely, exposed persons are isolated for 21 days to prevent possible transmission.

NBA Player Helps with Ebola Treatment 

In January, 2019, Hall of Fame MBA player and philanthropist, DRC native Kikembe Mutombo, toured the Emory University Hospital’s SCDU. He said that the DRC “represents in many ways the perfect epidemiological storm” because of poverty, poor health services and a high rate of infectious diseases. (https://news.emory.edu/stories/2019/01/er_mutombo_scdu_ebola/campus.html) Mutombo has built a hospital in his home country and continues to work to improve conditions there. 

Is There a Vaccine?

There is a vaccine available, but it is currently in testing and used on a compassionate basis with those most at risk for developing the diseases. Called rVSV-ZEBOV, it is considered experimental at this point. Approximately 100,000 persons have been given the vaccine so far and the results are encouraging.

Ebola continues to be a tremendous threat as authorities announced July 31, 2019 that there were two new cases in Goma, DRC, a city of 2 million that is also home to an international airport. The patient had a wide-ranging number of contacts prior to diagnosis. This case and many others like it, highlight the tremendous difficulties authorities face as they confront this deadly disease and stalk it to the point of extermination.

Joy is a long-time nurse and currently works as a Faith Community Nurse. She enjoys writing, maintaining a blog and publishing Bible Studies and a children's book.

5 Followers; 97 Articles; 147,786 Profile Views; 404 Posts

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Snatchedwig has 11 years experience as a ADN, CNA, LPN, RN and specializes in Medsurg.

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Can't wait to add that to the worlds eradicated list. 

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