URL of this page: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/podcast/transcript102014.html

NLM Director’s Comments Transcript

Ebola Update – 1: 10/20/2014

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Greetings from the National Library of Medicine and MedlinePlus.gov

Regards to all our listeners!

I'm Rob Logan, Ph.D. senior staff U.S. National Library of Medicine for Donald Lindberg, M.D, the Director of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

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Ebola’s risk to other hospitalized patients and health care workers can be reduced through the rigorous training of hospital staff, notes a recent article in Science.

The article provides some perspective regarding the safety of health care workers and others in hospitals and clinics where Ebola patients currently are treated. As I write public anxiety about safety is exacerbated by the Ebola diagnosis of a second nurse at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital where Thomas Duncan, a Liberian visiting Dallas, recently died from Ebola.

However, Science notes some rigorous standards and prudent preparation of health care workers have prevented Ebola’s transmission to health care workers within most West African clinics for many years. For example, Science explains to date only only one health care provider has contracted Ebola in clinics run by Doctors Without Borders, the organization which has provided most medical services to Ebola patients in Liberia and other West African nations where the current outbreak and previous cases have occurred.

Science reports the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently held the first of many training courses for health care workers in an old U.S. Army base in Anniston, Alabama. Science explains the training site was selected because the area’s climate and the buildings’ minimal trappings are somewhat similar to the conditions health workers may experience in West Africa.

More specifically, Daniel Bausch, a Tulane University epidemiologist, who worked in prior Ebola outbreaks in Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Uganda, tells Science, a key to prevent Ebola’s transmission to health care workers, other hospital patients and visitors to understand where the virus is likely or unlikely to persist.
For example, Bausch tells Science in acute Ugandan cases, Ebola was found in patient saliva, stool, tears, natural blood, and breast milk. However, Ebola was rarely present in patient sweat or urine. Bausch notes his experience also suggests Ebola does not spread by lingering on environmental surfaces.

Hence, Bausch explains it is unlikely the Ebola virus is transmitted from person to person via handshaking or placing your hands on a surface previously touched by an Ebola patient. Bausch added higher viral levels and increased danger of secondhand exposure occur as Ebola patients become more ill. Bausch explains the corpses of persons who died from Ebola present the highest viral level and risk of exposure to health care workers, caregivers, and others.

Bausch adds working in an Ebola treatment unit is not a life-threatening endeavor. He tells Science (and we quote): ‘Otherwise I wouldn’t do it myself and it wouldn’t be ethical for me to counsel other people to do it’ (end of quote).

Meanwhile, some of the additions to MedlinePlus’ Ebola health topic page include links to a website that helps parents discuss Ebola information with kids. The website (provided by the Neumours Foundation) can be found in the ‘overviews’ section of MedlinePlus.gov’s Ebola health topic page.

A website from the National Institutes of Health explains the current efforts to detect the genetic similarities and differences among Ebola viruses. The information, found within the ‘research’ section of MedlinePlus.gov’s Ebola health topic page, notes similar genetic signatures among current and past viruses may accelerate the ability to more rapidly treat and control Ebola. 

NLM also recently activated the emergency access initiative, which provides full access to the medical literature about Ebola from more than 650 medical journals and 4,000 reference books. You access this literature by clicking on ‘Ebloa-see more articles‘ within the ‘journal articles’ section of MedlinePlus.gov’s Ebola health topic page.

In addition, you can see current clinical trials for Ebola treatment and prevention by clicking on ‘Clinicaltrials.gov: Ebolavirus’ within the ‘clinical trials’ section of MedlinePlus.gov’s Ebola health topic page.

To find MedlinePlus.gov’s Ebola health topic page type ‘Ebola’ in the search box on MedlinePlus.gov’s home page, then, click on ‘Ebola (National Library of Medicine).’

In addition, there is valuable Ebola information on healthmap.org (a website from Boston Children’s Hospital) that helps you learn more about Ebola as well as disease/illness outbreaks anywhere in the world. Healthmap.org supplies a world map with small circles indicating where an outbreak has occurred. You click on a circle and the latest information is provided about the outbreak in that area. In cases of a deadly outbreak, such as Ebola in West Africa, Healthmap adds helpful materials that offer the latest evidence-based information about the disease’s location, number of cases, risks, and treatment.

Healthmap.org is free and is accessible within major web browsers, such as Firefox, Safari, Chrome, or Explorer.

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A disclaimer — the information presented in this program should not replace the medical advice of your physician. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any disease without first consulting with your physician or other health care provider.

It was nice to be with you. I look forward to meeting you here next week.