Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has been all over the media trying to damp down the excessive fear over the Ebola virus and reassuring people that it is not that easy to get the disease. In this photo, we see that he stands by his conviction, showing him embracing the nurse Nina Pham who got the disease after treating a person who died from the disease but has now been declared disease-free. I hope that photo calms some people down.
President Obama has also publicly embraced her.
I hope that this will help to calm people who may avoid the two nurses Pham and Amber Vinson who contracted the disease after treating an Ebola patient.
The fact that Pham is among several people in the US who have been treated successfully for a disease that has a staggering mortality rate as high as 70% raises the question of why so many have survived in the US while so many are dying in West Africa. NPR had an interview with an Ebola expert Daniel Bausch to try and uncover the reasons and he says:
“Well, that’s a big debate that’s going on right now that I think we would all agree that exceptional care or even really routine but aggressive medical care is something that will make a difference and I think we’re seeing that with the care that the repatriated cases, for example, in the United States and Europe have gotten. Of course, those people are getting IV fluids – others, sometimes experimental therapies. And it seems to make a difference when you compare it unfortunately to many people in West Africa for whom we can’t give those therapies right now.”
“These patients with Ebola have seemed especially severe in this particular outbreak, where we’re getting people who lose eight to 10 liters of fluid a day from diarrhea, nausea and vomiting and sometimes bleeding. So if you just think about that, just getting an IV line into someone, giving them fluids, basic things, for example, what we call electrolytes that we would normally do in any patient who was admitted to a hospital in the United States very routinely – I think if we can do those things and do those things aggressively, we would see a big difference.”
While the efforts to cure and treat the disease are important, so are efforts to ease the fears and remove the stigma and Fauci and Obama are to be commended for their actions.