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Lack of Protective Gear Contributing to Ebola Toll Among Healthcare Workers — Physician’s First Watch

Medical News |
August 27, 2014

Lack of Protective Gear Contributing to Ebola Toll Among Healthcare Workers

By Kelly Young

Edited by David G. Fairchild, MD, MPH, and Lorenzo Di Francesco, MD, FACP, FHM

The World Health Organization estimates that more than 240 healthcare workers have been infected with the Ebola virus since the outbreak began, and over half of these have died.

The affected countries were struggling with a dearth of physicians before the outbreak: in Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia, there are only one or two doctors for every 100,000 people, according to WHO estimates. In Liberia, which had only 51 total physicians, 36 healthcare workers have died, according to an Annals of Internal Medicine commentary.

The Annals commentators emphasize two factors that are contributing to the high infection rate among healthcare workers: there is a scarcity of personal protective equipment (PPE), and when it is available, workers are not always following the proper procedure in putting it on and taking it off.

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