Samaritan’s Purse leader: Africa’s Ebola safety standards higher than CDC’s

Samaritan’s Purse leader: Africa’s Ebola safety standards higher than CDC’s

[Ed. – That’ll sog up your Cheerios.]

U.S. standards for protecting healthcare workers from Ebola are weaker than those widely used in West Africa, according to the leader of a group treating victims of the virus in Liberia.

“We’re not comfortable with [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)] procedures,” Ken Isaacs, the vice president of Samaritan’s Purse, told The Hill.

When Samaritan’s Purse health workers treat patients in Liberia, they wear two pairs of gloves and spray themselves with disinfectant twice before leaving the isolation ward. They have a three-foot “no touch” policy and hold safety meetings every day.

In U.S. hospitals — such as Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, which has had three cases of Ebola — workers don’t have to hose down their gear and are told it’s OK for gloves to expose their wrists.

“If you slip, and you touch your skin on the wrist, you’re going to get Ebola,” said Isaacs, who has worked on-the-ground disaster relief in countries like Haiti, the Philippines and Bosnia. …

CDC protocols only require double gloving — as well as shoe or leg coverings — in circumstances where there are “copious amounts of blood, other body fluids, vomit, or feces.”

Dr. Tom Frieden, the director of the CDC, has said “any hospital with an intensive care unit” can stop the disease from spreading. He told reporters Wednesday that the CDC still does not know how the two nurses, Nina Pham and Amber Vinson, became infected. President Obama has ordered an expedited investigation examining the missteps. …

Pham and Vinson were among the more than 70 healthcare workers who cared for Duncan, who at times had “extensive production of body fluids,” Frieden said. None of those healthcare workers were on the CDC’s list of people to monitor because of exposure to Duncan.

Isaacs said all nurses should have been constantly monitored for 21 days after their exposure to Duncan, who died last week. During a 21-day monitoring period, staff are also required to report their temperature four times a day.

CDC’s policy says those people don’t need to be isolated, which Isaacs said is basically telling them that they “can live a normal life.”

“I don’t think that’s safe, Samaritans Purse doesn’t think that’s safe,” Isaacs said.

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