As Ebola cases continue to double every 3 weeks in West Africa, and 10,000 new cases per week are anticipated, the U.S. military is sending some 4,000 troops to help build hospital facilities with about 1,700 total beds. This is part of President Obama’s effort to build an “air bridge” to West Africa.
While at first it was stated that troops would not come into direct contact with Ebola victims, some will be working in mobile laboratory facilities.
Israel will send civilian aid, but declined to send troops, citing fears of bringing infection into Israel.
The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) claims that the disease can’t be transmitted by asymptomatic persons, that its protective protocols are adequate, and that the disease is not “airborne.”
So far, it is not known how the Dallas nurse caring for the index Ebola patient from Liberia became infected despite protective gear. The World Health Organization states that work with Ebola needs to be done in BSL-4 (biosafety level 4) containment facilities, with self-contained air for breathing and negative pressure to prevent escape of air from the isolation room. Very few hospitals are capable of these precautions.
What kind of protective gear will our troops be using? Doctors without Borders states that personal protective equipment is intolerable for more than 40 minutes.
Will troops be quarantined for 21 days in an Ebola-free location before returning to the U.S. and their families?
“The only sure way to prevent an Ebola epidemic is to keep potentially infected persons out of the area,” stated Physicians for Civil Defense president Jane M Orient, M.D. “We need to restrict entry via the ‘bridges’ we already have, not build additional ones.”
Physicians for Civil Defense has long advocated better preparedness for disasters, including natural epidemics and biological warfare.