UNC Expert Discusses Ebola Risks and Precautions for Healthcare Workers

"All healthcare workers know they run a risk when they take care of patients, particularly those with communicable diseases," says David Weber, MD, professor of medicine, pediatrics, and epidemiology at the University of North Carolina Schools of Medicine and Public Health.

"In Africa," Weber describes, "more than 300 healthcare workers have acquired Ebola. More than 200 of those have died."

"Healthcare providers are well aware of the risks...and we accept that risk," Weber says.

When it comes to volunteer healthcare workers willing to treat patients with Ebola, the focus now should be to minimize those risks through proper training, Weber says.

"We need to do that ahead of time, before the patient comes, because we train those people intensively," Weber explains. "How to safely put on and take off their personal protective equipment," for example.

"And we screen them as well," Weber continues, "for those that might be pregnant, have open wounds or skin, those that themselves are immunocompromised...we wouldn't accept those people because they would be at higher risk."

Source: UNC