Via CIDRAP, Lisa Schnirring's excellent overview of an eventful day: WHO pulls Ebola team, probes site of staffer's infection. She also deals with CDC Director Tom Frieden's reaction to what he's seen in Liberia and the logistical issues arising from airlines' dropping of flights to West Africa. Excerpt:
The World Health Organization (WHO) said today that is temporarily pulling its staff from a part of Sierra Leone where one of its deployed workers was sickened by the Ebola virus, as health officials battling the outbreak struggled with problems caused by bans on airline flights to the affected countries.
In a press release e-mailed to journalists the WHO said it pulled health workers from Kailahun, one of the outbreak hot spots, to Freetown, Sierra Leone's capital, after announcing over the weekend that one of its workers was infected.
The worker is reportedly an epidemiologist from Senegal who is with the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN) and was in Kailahun district tracing EVD cases, according to earlier reports. Kailahun district is not far from where the borders of Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia meet—a region that global health officials have called one of the outbreak's most intense hot spots.
WHO team 'exhausted'
Daniel Kertesz, MD, MPH, the WHO representative in Sierra Leone, said in the statement that the move was the responsible thing to do and that the field team has been through a traumatic time during the incident. "They are exhausted from many weeks of heroic work, helping patients infected with Ebola. When you add a stressor like this, the risk of accidents increases."
"We recognize that this will interrupt the work in the field for the short term, but it ensures we protect health workers and help the community over the longer term, " Kertesz said. "We are working rapidly to ensure we can return to the field as quickly as possible."
In a related action, the WHO said it sent another team to the area, which borders Guinea, to review how the health worker was infected, what the living and working conditions are like for employees, and what factors increase the risk of infection.
Once actions are taken to address the issues, the agency said, it will move the team back to Kailahun, and for now, lab work will be conducted at the center in Kenema.