How does a health worker become infected with Ebola? Often, it's the result of breaches in safety protocols. A Swiss nurse shares her experiences. (SRF/swissinfo.ch)
Unlike airborne diseases like measles, for Ebola to spread there needs to be direct contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person. Thus one infected person will not spread the disease to that many people. Experts talk of the so called reproduction number, which in the case of the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa is 1.5-2.5, similar to previous instances of the disease. This is relatively low compared with the reproduction number of airborne diseases such as measles, where the value might be 15 in an unvaccinated population.
Sabine Hediger, a nurse for the Swiss Red Cross, recollects moments from her own experience in an Ebola treatment centre in Sierra Leone: overcoming the initial fear of coming into contact with an Ebola patient, the material difficulties and the emotional implications heath workers are faced with while carrying out their responsibilities. Connected to that are the catastrophic consequences that decisions based on compassion could have on the safety of health workers.