Ebola crisis reaches highest alert level
Thu, 07 Aug 2014 15:06:14 GMT —
CNN -- The CDC has issued its highest alert for the Ebola crisis: a Level 1.
Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta was at the CDC's Emergency Operation Center when it was announced.
What that means is more people and more resources are dedicated to the response.
It also sends a message within the organization the sort of "all hands on deck" kind of approach to things that people may need to drop what they are doing or cut back what they're doing to contribute to this Ebola response because we just need more bodies to help with the activities.
The video shows exactly what the inside of the CDC's EOC looks like -- a map of the world, showing what infectious diseases are happening and where they are happening. As you can imagine, a lot of focus is going into Ebola -- and they're tracking that in real time.
They've been doing so since March. In mid-May, things look like they're basically under control. But then at the beginning of June, everything takes off, becoming the worst outbreak in history.
Dr. Stephen Monroe is helping lead the CDC's response. His reasoning for this scale of outbreak is the remote region in which it started. It began in the corner between three countries -- in a very remote part of each of these countries -- and so it spread across the borders of these three countries and from there, spread into the capitals, and got out of control much more quickly than it has in previous outbreaks.
The CDC is sending 50 more people to the region. The World Health Organization is appealing for more funding. But it's not just money; there's a lack of education and cultural differences in the region.
Dr. Meridith Dixon just returned from two tours in the remote part of Guinea, where she was trying to help control this outbreak.
She said that one day the international staff at the Guekedou Treatment Center was removed from the area because of a rumor that a group of young men would be coming to destroy the treatment center because they wanted to destroy Ebola. That situation never escalated, but it shows the kind of hurdles and confusion that the health workers face.
Here in the U.S., a different confusion. Different questions. For example, if Ebola is not airborne, why the extraordinary precautions for Dr. Brantly and Ms. Whitebol? Turns out it was an abundance of caution, rather than necessity.
Dr. Monroe said the CDC is "pretty confidant" that any large hospital could hand an Ebola case using traditional isolation rooms with negative pressure room with droplet and respiratory precautions. The CDC says a mask, goggles to protect eyes or a face shield to protect the face, a protective gown to prevent bodily fluids from covering clothes and arms, and gloves can provide protection for most situations.
The WHO is currently meeting and could announce a public health emergency on Friday -- an announcement that would add even more urgency at the CDC's nerve center in Atlanta.