Ebola

Fact-Checking Ebola

Apr 1, 2015
Julian Rademeyer

When the Ebola outbreak began last year in Africa, many questioned whether it was actually true.  Outspoken officials and professors claimed the outbreak was a rumor and their initial comments had devastating effects. 

A picture of George Poehlman and other aid workers
Dr. George Poehlman

Doctor George Poehlman recently returned from an eight-week aid mission in Liberia.  Upon his return, the retired Durham, N.C. family physician put himself in voluntary quarantine at a time when some other doctors around the country have refused such quarantine, noting that it's not necessary.

Ebola Sign
Leoneda Inge

North Carolina boasts many resources when it comes to combating the Ebola Virus outbreak in West Africa. Two pharmaceutical companies are developing potential vaccines. Duke University Hospital has proven its ability to treat potential Ebola patients, while UNC has students helping to track the spread of the disease in Liberia. Soldiers from Fort Bragg have been enlisted in the ground effort.

All these resources are part of not only fighting the virus overseas, but protecting North Carolinians.

A picture of a syringe.
Zaldylmg / Creative Commons

Nurses gathered outside the VA Hospital in Durham Wednesday to raise awareness about the risk Ebola poses to healthcare workers. It was part of an international effort, urging hospitals to adopt the highest preparedness standards for staff who might potentially treat a patient with Ebola. 

String-like Ebola virus particles are shedding from an infected cell in this electron micrograph.
NIH/NIAID via Flickr/Creative Commons

State health officials say a patient at Duke University Hospital who so far has tested negative for the Ebola virus has posed no risk to the general public.

Secretary of Health and Human Services Aldona Wos and others held a call-in news conference Monday afternoon to talk about the patient, who arrived in the U.S. from Liberia on Saturday.

The patient, who remains anonymous, is currently in an isolation ward at Duke, after reporting a fever while traveling by bus to North Carolina from New Jersey.

A picture of colorized Ebola particles.
Thomas W. Geisbert, Boston University School of Medicine / Wikipedia

UNC-Chapel Hill chancellor Carol Folt and leaders at UNC Health Care are prohibiting student travel to Ebola-stricken nations.  University faculty and staff must have approval before traveling to Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone.

New York and New Jersey are requiring people returning from Ebola-affected areas of Africa to stay in quarantine for three weeks. That's the incubation period for the disease. 

But North Carolina does not have such a mandate.

This week, Health Secretary Aldona Wos outlined the state's protocols for people returning from West Africa.

A picture of colorized Ebola particles.
Thomas W. Geisbert, Boston University School of Medicine / Wikipedia

North Carolina health and safety officials are building a united front to prepare against the Ebola virus.

State Health and Human Services secretary Aldona Wos announced at a press conference yesterday that the Centers for Disease Control has named North Carolina's State Laboratory of Public Health to be a regional hub to test potential Ebola specimens.

String-like Ebola virus particles are shedding from an infected cell in this electron micrograph.
NIH/NIAID via Flickr/Creative Commons

Some Chapel Hill librarians are joining in the effort  to respond to the Ebola crisis in West Africa. A non-profit group called WiderNet is making information available to those without Internet access.

WiderNet's project director, Cliff Missen, says only two percent of people in Liberia and Sierra Leone have an Internet connection -- that includes health care workers.

"What we do is something completely different," says Missen. 

Isata Kallon, a nurse at Kenema Hospital in eastern Sierra Leone, remembers the day 3-year-old Ibrahim showed up at the Ebola treatment center. He was with his mother and two older brothers, ages 5 and 8. They all had Ebola. Ibrahim was especially sick, vomiting constantly.

"The chance of survival was very low for him," says Kallon, who's in her 30s. She sits at a picnic table outside the Ebola ward, her hair pulled back with a hairband and her blue nursing scrubs tinged with sweat around the neck.

Ebola in Guinea.
flickr.com/photos/69583224@N05/13717624625/

It started with a whisper. 

Ebola-Stricken Nurse Appears Well In Video

Oct 17, 2014

Updated at 10:50 a.m. ET

A smiling nurse Nina Pham, who contracted Ebola after treating an infected patient in Dallas, appears in a video taken before she was transferred to a special isolation unit at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md. She jokingly urges people to "come to Maryland."

How are Americans sizing up the threat from Ebola?

A Harvard School of Public Health poll finds that more than a third of Americans (38 percent) are worried that Ebola will infect them or a family member over the next year.

Most (81 percent) believe Ebola can spread from someone who is sick and has symptoms. And that's correct.

Updated at 8:43 p.m. ET

A second health care worker who has tested positive for the Ebola virus was airlifted from a Dallas hospital, where she became infected, to Emory University hospital in Atlanta for continued treatment on Wednesday.

Dr. Thomas Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says Amber Vinson, whom public records indicate is a nurse in Dallas, is "clinically stable" and that she was "quickly isolated" after her first test for Ebola came back positive on Tuesday.

String-like Ebola virus particles are shedding from an infected cell in this electron micrograph.
NIH/NIAID via Flickr/Creative Commons

State government leaders say North Carolina is well on the way to being prepared if an Ebola case is diagnosed within our borders.  A state epidemiologist says steps to isolate a contagious and potentially deadly case can be put in place without an emergency order from the governor.   Those actions can include quarantines of people and buildings.  

State DHHS secretary Aldona Wos says the appearance of the disease in this country is prompting many states to respond.

Ebola Sign
Leoneda Inge

The first diagnosed Ebola case in the United States and the first death, has raised awareness of the deadly disease from California to the Carolinas.

Hospitals and health professionals are especially on alert.  The state Department of Health and Human Services has been working closely with health care providers since the summer, to prepare for the possibility of an Ebola patient being diagnosed here.

Wake County commissioners heard from health officials today on the county's readiness should an Ebola case be diagnosed here.  The leaders cited several calls of concern they've received from residents after the disease was discovered in a hospital patient in Texas. 

Wake County health experts say they are working with hospitals, universities and airport authorities to ensure the earliest warnings are given should a case appear in North Carolina.  

Brent Myers is the medical director for Wake County EMS.  He says the county's efforts are being replicated across the state.

Update: 4 a.m. ET Friday:

NBC news has identified the freelance cameraman who tested positive for Ebola as 33-year-old Ashoka Mukpo. He was hired on Tuesday to be a second cameraman for the network's team covering the Ebola outbreak in Liberia. Mukpo had been working in West Africa for the last three years on various projects.

Original Post:

Today, the World Health Organization reported more than 2,900 people have died from Ebola in Western Africa. Amidst the growing epidemic, Nigeria has managed to escape much of the havoc.

Nigeria is Africa's most populous country by far, with more than 170 million people. Yet there have been only 20 confirmed cases and eight confirmed deaths from Ebola since July.   How has the country escaped widespread infection?

A picture of colorized Ebola particles.
Thomas W. Geisbert, Boston University School of Medicine / Wikipedia

A Durham-based non-profit is starting a concentrated effort to slow the spread of Ebola in west Africa.  The group Africa Yes! says it's raising money and awareness for villages in the Eastern Province of Sierra Leone. 

The virus has killed more than 500 people in that country, which is second only to Liberia's death toll.  Africa Yes! co-founder Steve Cameron says the group is sending money for supplies to 19 small villages that have not yet been infected.

a map of Ebola deaths in Liberia, broken down by county.
www.EbolaInLiberia.org

From his office in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Steven King has no illusions about his efforts on the Ebola front as compared to those on the ground. His role was made clear on  a recent conference call between him and his counterparts in the country.

Two nurses and ebola patient in 1976
Wikipedia

  

 As news of the Ebola outbreak that killed more than 1,000 people in West Africa continues, some missionaries from the region return to the United States. Their treatment and quarantine raises questions about American response to the disease.

Host Frank Stasio talks with Adaure Achumba, West Africa Correspondent for E-News Channel Africa and Karen Garloch, health reporter for The Charlotte Observer, about the latest news. 

A picture of colorized Ebola particles.
Thomas W. Geisbert, Boston University School of Medicine / Wikipedia

North Carolina health officials are following the spread of the Ebola virus in Western Africa. It was announced this week that two aid workers from North Carolina-based relief organizations have tested positive for the virus.

Dr. Kent Brantley of Samaritan's Purse and Nancy Writebol of Service in Mission were both working to combat the outbreak at a hospital in Liberia when they were infected.

In the past several months, Dr. Sheik Umar Khan has been a leader in the fight against the deadliest and largest Ebola outbreak in history.

Khan, 39, has treated over 100 Ebola patients in Sierra Leone. He's a "national hero," the country's health minister said Tuesday.

The World Health Organization has reported the largest outbreak of Ebola ever: more than 330 deaths in western Africa, and the number is rising.  Dr. William Fischer is an infectious disease specialist at the UNC School of Medicine. He has just returned from Guinea, the epicenter of the outbreak.  Fischer admits he was scared at first. He wore protective clothing and a mask that made him look more like an astronaut than a physician. 

When asked about one of his most memorable experiences, he told this story: