Zaire ebolavirus in West Africa

Dr. Tom Solomon is Director of the Institute for Infection and Global Health at the University of Liverpool. Here he speaks with Vincent Racaniello about the 2014 outbreak of Zaire ebolavirus in West Africa. Dr. Solomon discusses why the epidemic has spread, how it might be curtailed, the return of two infected health workers back to the United States for treatment, and the possibility that he might be traveling to the affected region to assist with medical care.


24 thoughts on “Zaire ebolavirus in West Africa”

  1. This conversation is actually part of a full TWiV that will be released in September, but I thought this part was important to get out now.

  2. Thanks for posting. This is a great update on the Ebolavirus outbreak; the most sensible and informative responses I’ve heard.

  3. As a fascinating aside, at least to me, it was very interesting to note how many times you, Vincent, touched your face/head compared to Tom – zero for him if I remember rightly without going back over the video again.

    That is a clear case of training overcoming habit, a habit that would be potentially lethal in an environment where Ebola virus is present. Of course I am not intimating that you are in any way reckless Vincent and I know you undoubtedly use the correct precautions and training for the viruses you handle in the lab. But it is exactly an indication of what Tom was alluding to when talking how some of the first responders may have infected themselves and the training they need to go through. Habit is a very hard thing to overcome and in pressure situations a nervous tick that made a reappearance could have devastating consequences.

  4. You are so right about that, Ed, and I’m very embarrassed. The good news is that while wearing gloves in the lab, I know not to touch my face/head.

  5. Jenifer Johnson

    If I were being asked to isolate myself in a clinic with outsiders and never be able to talk to my small child again, it’d be almost intolerably scary. I’d probably run, too. Dr. Brantly being able to chat with his family on webcam seemed invaluable to him and his family, and something worth duplicating. Being able to see into the forbidden zone might also go a long way towards easing Western Africans’ mistrust of health professionals. What do you think? Might it be worthwhile to set up a webcam inside the clinic and one outside so “visits” can happen? And to advertise that?

  6. …the curse of being a microbiologist with a beard! I’m guilty as charged, but being gloved & gowned instills a sense of discipline. Thanks, this was a very useful dialogue!

  7. In the 8 min mark Tom rubbed his face At 8:50 and 10 min, 11:50 and hands at mouth at 13 min

  8. Really kind of you to say so. And thanks to Vincent for getting it out there so quickly. I spent most of Friday talking to various BBC TV and Radio outlets who whittle way you say down to 20 second sound bites. It’s great to have the opportunity to discuss things properly with Vincent, who is a super host!
    Tom (@RunningMadProf)

  9. That’s a really new idea. Though at the moment there may be logistic issues.
    Thanks. Tom (@RunningMadProf)

  10. Maybe it’s just that, whereas I think most of Vincent’s work is with containment level 2 viruses, most of mine is with more dangerous pathogens! Tom (@RunningMadProf)

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  12. Well now it’s my turn to be embarrassed. I stand corrected – thanks for checking Rita.

  13. Trudy Bentley Rech

    Excellent discussion. The cultural issues which must be overcome to help control this outbreak are indeed daunting. Many individuals I know remain skeptical about how the virus is transmitted which underscores the need for more real science education. Thank you for publishing this now.

  14. Trudy Bentley Rech

    I used to work in public health epidemiology in a county health department and in the communicable disease clinic there as well. We sometimes were called upon to help problem solve disease control issues. Hand hygiene is a critical factor which is all too often ignored by clinicians in many health care settings. I have observed too many behaviors which were disturbing to someone with my training. The exception tends to be in pre-op and surgery units, but even so, I have seen lapses in technique and common sense there as well in a number of facilities. When training is rigorous and is reinforced by expert observation, it can overtake habit and become second nature even under great pressure. Just the setting can trigger optimal behaviors. Walking into a lab can put the researcher or technologist into a heightened sense. I just get near any sink, and I want to wash my hands! 😉

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  16. Presumably any hemorrhagic disease is going to rapidly deplete clotting factors would vitamin K be a useful supplement? Parsley is extraordinarily rich in K and should be readily available and cheap.

  17. Which prompts my question.

    The benefits of hand washing are well known, but face washing is rarely discussed. To me, facewashing seems a sensible supplement to general hygiene, since so many of these viruses enter through our mucous membranes.

    When you distribute behavioral changes like face washing over large populations (such as those at risk of Ebola in West Africa), the possible benefits seem tangible.

    Am I mistaken?

  18. Tom, the American Liberian knew he was sick BEFORE he left Liberia. Kindly get updated. A simple internet search could help. He is being thought of as intentionally infecting others.

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  20. Rominson Shrestha

    I think one of the two method will work for Ebola virus…1) use Tetanus Vaccine OR 2) Decrease the body temperature..

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