Would you treat someone with Marburg Virus?


Below is an atrticle which discusses the current outbreak of The Marburg virus in Africa. It talks about how seven nurses, nine health care workers, and several doctors have all died from the disase. The mortality rate of this outbreak may be in the 90% plus range. Health care workers are said to be deserting the hospital. Would you stay? Also, have they tried any of the newer retrovirals to see if they might at least "slow" or lessen the mortality of this disease?




14,633 Posts

Of course -- not that I would seek out the opportunity, but, if it were my job, I'd do it. This is the same as the debate over whether healthcare workers can refuse to treat people with HIV. Healthcare professionals are not licensed in order to be able to pick and choose among illnesses and patients.

Throughout history, there have been fatal communicable diseases (actually, more so in the past, since there are so many things we can treat/cure now), and healthcare workers have taken care of patients that had them. I remember being amazed back in the early days of HIV, when some healthcare workers sounded like this was the first time in history anyone had ever been expected to care for someone with a terminal illness you could catch ... :rolleyes:

You take the appropriate precautions, hope they're sufficient, and you do your job. That's what we all signed up for -- IMO, if you're not willing to do that, you shouldn't be in nursing. (Let the flaming begin ... :rolleyes: )

Specializes in 5 yrs OR, ASU Pre-Op 2 yr. ER.

Yes i would. I didn't become a nurse to be selective of who i care for.

jnette, ASN, EMT-I

4,388 Posts

Specializes in Hemodialysis, Home Health. Has 10 years experience.
Yes i would. I didn't become a nurse to be selective of who i care for.

Excellent answer, Marie. Thank you. :)

suzanne4, RN

26,410 Posts

Definitely would care for them........would never be an option for me.......not even having to think twice about it.....this is why most of us went into the profession...........and that was back when salaries were single digit per hour.

Dixielee, BSN, RN

1,222 Posts

Specializes in ER. Has 38 years experience.

This outbreak stimulates some good thought and conversation. I think we are looking at apples and oranges when you try to compare the care in Angola compared to the US/Canada/western model of healthcare. They do not have the same kind of facilities, medicines, supplies etc that we do. They are sleeping sometimes 2 to a bed, sometimes no running water, multi patient wards, etc. They also live in a culture of ignorance, and are killing healthcare workers who they think are spreading the disease. While there may be some health care worker deaths in the beginning of an outbreak here, I think it would be quickly contained (I hope, anyway). We are looking at the same thing with the bird flu. The situation in Viet Nam cannot be compared to western medicine.

BadBird, BSN, RN

1,126 Posts

Specializes in Critical Care.

I wonder if the workers used universal precautions. With proper use and negative flow rooms like the TB rooms I would feel safe taking care of the patients.


221 Posts

maybe i'm a terrible person and certainly unworthy to join the ranks of martyrs but i can't say i would treat someone if i could pretty much be guaranteed that their disease would kill me. i feel there should be a big difference between being a nurse and being a martyr, perhaps it's the even the difference between being a nurse today and being a nurse seventy years ago. there's nothing wrong with self-sacrifice for the noble cause of comforting and caring for a person, but i personally wouldn't ever knowingly put my own life in danger because my health-care facility couldn't provide me with the proper precautions and materials to protect myself. i realize that utilitarianism often sounds harsh to people but as healthcare workers (future health care worker in my case) we sometimes need to think of what would result in the greatest good for the greatest number of people. what if you died treating a patient who was going to die anyways regardless of your actions? you might be jeopardizing your other patients and then the population you are serving might loose a very valuable healthcare professional who could save patients with treatable diseases. an article about this virus actually said that one of the problems was that patients were coming into the hospitls and infecting the doctors and nurses, who in turn infected other patients. i'm not really sure this is the same as treating a patient with HIV because it seems like the nurses and doctors did not initially have the proper materials/resources to protect themselves. walking into a situation like this without the means to protect yourself would be like a firefighter walking into a burning building in street clothes. you could pretty much be certain he/she would die and then they wouldn't be able to rescue anybody else. as long as i can protect myself and be assured that my precautions are adequate, i'll treat any patient.

suzanne4, RN

26,410 Posts

I was living in Thailand during the first bird flu epidemic when nothing was known about the diesase or how it is spread.

The problems were up country, not in the Bangkok area because of the way facilities are run and what is available to the staff for protection. Same thing when SARS hit............in Hong Kong and Canada and the other countries.

Different diseases will hit different areas in different ways. You always have to prepare yourself that someone will have something that can kill you. This happened when Hepatitis C first started showing up, etc.


439 Posts

I think it's easy to say 'yes' when the situation is hypothetical--the world is filled with hypothetical martyrs. Which is why there are so few real ones.

I know my reality and the answer is a resounding 'no'. Read up on the virus, and you'll know why.


69 Posts

I think it's easy to say 'yes' when the situation is hypothetical--the world is filled with hypothetical martyrs. Which is why there are so few real ones.

I know my reality and the answer is a resounding 'no'. Read up on the virus, and you'll know why.

It would really depend on many factors. One of those would be,"If 90% are going to die no matter what I do and I have a family and other patients to care for I would have to say I might not." I would not like to think I had given my life without cause. That being said I know if I were surrounded by these patients who were crying out for comfort my heart probably would not LET me refuse. But I would be *&*#$ careful. :o :o

Specializes in Oncology/Haemetology/HIV.

As I have already nursed in Africa, I have already dealt with the issue. That, Ebola, Hanta and Marburg are always a possibility.

As long as appropriate precautions are in place, I would do so. However, I suspect that in many parts of Africa, proper precautions are not available.

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