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Experts Weigh in on Ebola Epidemic, Treatment, Prevention, and Social Effects — Physician’s First Watch

Medical News |
August 21, 2014

Experts Weigh in on Ebola Epidemic, Treatment, Prevention, and Social Effects

By Joe Elia

Edited by Susan Sadoughi, MD

Four brief NEJM perspectives examine the current Ebola epidemic, which is the largest and longest-lived on record.

One of the three clinically oriented contributions describes the World Health Organization's declaration of a public health emergency and its implications. Another offers information on drugs that have shown activity against the virus; it describes the problem (and ethics) of collecting efficacy data on these treatments mid-epidemic.

A CDC contribution, which includes the agency's director among its authors, reiterates three key preventive measures: "meticulous" infection control, community education and support, and avoiding contact with potential viral reservoirs like bats and bush meat.

In the fourth perspective, WHO director-general Margaret Chan emphasizes the social roots of the epidemic. Poverty had already crippled the health systems of the affected African countries before Ebola struck, and the virus has only made things worse. Traditional burial practices in Guinea were linked to almost two thirds of the cases there.

Separately, the CDC released updated guidance on Ebola infection control in hospitals, as well as a poster detailing the sequence in which personal protective equipment should be put on and taken off.

The scale of the work ahead became apparent amid reports on Wednesday of confrontations between soldiers and residents in a newly quarantined neighborhood in Liberia's capital.

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