Monday, October 27, 2014

Medical treatment of Ebola victim Thomas Duncan takes on racial overtones, and Liberian citizens living in America are very anger

Patrick Sawyer, 40, a naturalized citizen of the United States, died of Ebola July 20. He was a top government official in the Liberian Ministry of Finance.  A father of three, Sawyer was planning on returning to the U.S. to celebrate the birthday of one of his daughters. But first he had to stop in Lagos, Nigeria for a conference.
Patrick Sawyer

Deboarding the plane in Nigeria, Sawyer collapsed. He was whisked off to a Nigerian hospital. The Ebola virus disease (EVD) that he contracted in Liberia was quickly taking toll on his body. He was not aware that he had contracted Ebola. He died in Dallas, Texas hospital. He contracted the virus while taking care of his sister in Liberia. His wife said he did not know his sister had Ebola.

Decontee Sawyer
Patrick Sawyer’s death was barely a blip in the American media. There were a few news stories, and interviews with his wife Decontee Sawyer, but the attention was nowhere close to the attention that Thomas Eric Duncan’s death received. His death quickly evolved into a referendum against President Barack Obama. Republicans and faultfinding critics hastily proclaimed that the President did not “act fast enough” to stop the “invasion” of an Ebola epidemic in this country.

At the time the only individuals to have symptoms of the Ebola virus in America was Duncan, and the nurses who took care of him. The doctors and nurses that contracted the virus in West Africa were quarantined in another state before Duncan was hospitalized in Dallas. They came to the United States for medical treatment. They hardly constituted an “Ebola invasion”. Not one case originated in America. Dr. Craig Spencer, 33, a volunteer with Doctors Without Borders, is the latest victim to return to America from West Africa, infected with the virus. He is in quarantine at Bellevue Hospital in New York.

A native of Liberia, Duncan, 42, died October 8 in a Dallas, Texas at the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. Sawyer died in Nigeria, the reason his death did not cause a Duncan-like panic in America. Duncan’s death initiated a wave of fearmongering that was, and is still being bolstered and perpetrated by campaigning Republicans and a complicit media.

There as some controversy in Duncan's story when he traveled to Dallas. He had been in contact with someone in Liberia who had Ebola but he did not know the pregnant woman was infected with the virus. "Duncan's story to his US caregivers contradicts the real story in his community in Liberia a little because in the 72nd community where he lived before traveling the the US many saw him as this humanitarian who went to give help to a neighbor whose daughter was pregnant and sick. Mathaline Williams was six months pregnant and her parents were Duncan's neighbors who owned the apartment that Duncan lived in.

"Irene Senyou, lives in the apartment right next to where Duncan lived before his travel. Senyou told FrontPageAfrica that her next-door neighbor Duncan helped their landlord when his (landlord) pregnant daughter who later died was sick. She said, 'When the girl got sick, he helped to carry the girl. He helped to put the girl in the car to take her to the hospital,' she says. 

"When they brought her back, he helped to put her in the house. He was not looking sick and he never knew the girl had Ebola." Duncan was 42 years old and travelled to the US from Liberia. He flew to Dallas to visit family, became sick a few days later, and then made his first visit to the Dallas hospital."

Liberians living in “Little Liberia” in Staten Island, New York, as well as those living in Texas, are angry that Duncan did not get adequate medical care. They likened his medical treatment to that of the nurses and doctors quarantined at the one of the four hospitals, where treatment is specialized to suit Ebola victims, none of whom have died. They question why Duncan was the only one to die.

Allen Tarty, communications director for the Liberian Community Association of Dallas-Ft Worth, Texas said, “Duncan was given second-rate treatment in a country with one of the world’s best health care systems. There are so many things happening that are making the Liberian community angry.”

Tarty, who has been in the U.S. for 12 years, said Duncan was mistreated by the hospital staff to discourage other Liberians from traveling to the U. S. to seek treatment. (

Thomas Eric Duncan
An article in The Guardian (October 16) traveled farther down the road, declaring that racism and having no insurance played a pivotal role in the medical care that Duncan received September 25. The article compared Duncan to Nina Pham, one of the nurses who contracted Ebola from Duncan. 

"Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person to die of Ebola in the United States, was not the right kind of victim for the west: he wasn't a pretty young woman smiling in sunglasses as a Cavalier King Charles spaniel named Bentley licks her cheeks; he didn't have a young, benevolent doctor's face that looks "appropriate" plastered on newspapers; he wasn't a kindly older nurse who told reporters how God had spared her. He wasn’t the kind of person to whom primetime news specials would dedicate 20 minutes and glorify with quotes from loved ones about his kind spirit or ceaseless determination to overcome an unfair affliction.

“Thomas Eric Duncan was black, he was poor, and he was African. A Dallas hospital turned away the uninsured Liberian immigrant after an initial exam concluded he suffered only from a "low-grade viral disease", and the media turned him into the unsympathetic, undeserving face of a contagion with which the west is frantically grappling."

Annan is not pleased with the complacency of wealthy countries are displaying

Long as the Ebola virus was contained in West Africa there was no concern among politicians and the media about the virus making its way to America. It was that lackadaisical attitude that’s frustrating former UN Secretary Kofi Annan. During an interview with Britain’s BBC Newsnight he said: "I am bitterly disappointed by the response... I am disappointed in the international community for not moving faster.

"If the crisis had hit some other region it probably would have been handled very differently.
Kofi Annan
In fact when you look at the evolution of the crisis, the international community really woke up when the disease got to America and Europe.

“I point the finger of blame at the governments with capacity... I think there's enough blame to go around. The African countries in the region could have done a bit more they could have asked for help much faster and the international community could have organized ourselves in a much better way to offer assistance. We didn't need to take months to do what we are doing today."

Annan does not blame the World Health Organization (WHO) for its slowness to ask for help. Nevertheless, the organization is getting some criticism. “By the time the Ebola outbreak was declared an international emergency, Liberia had less than 250 doctors. Scientists could not have devised a more nurturing environment for a deadly virus if they had designed it in a laboratory.

“But if local conditions created the opening for the epidemic, it was global inaction that helped it to flourish. For months, organizations like Doctors Without Borders begged the World Health Organization to begin marshaling resources to fight the crisis. But after years of budget cuts and the gutting of its epidemic-response unit, WHO failed to act with anything approaching the necessary speed and competence. 

"Nor was it alone: governments around the world have stalled, unwilling to recognize this outbreak as the global humanitarian crisis it is. Even now, far too few have stepped up to provide the medical resources and technical expertise that are so desperately needed.” (The Nation, October 8)

Health care systems and facilities in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, three of the poorest countries in the world, have been decimated by protracted civil wars. Healthcare workers and doctors to fled these countries in fear for their lives, and contracting the deadly virus. Not enough doctors and healthcare workers are available to take care the Ebola stricken victims in these countries.

This outbreak of Ebola is the worst in history, according to CDC and healthcare professionals. Liberia is the hardest hit and has the highest number of Ebola deaths, which are climbing daily. Sierra Leona and Guinea are almost tied in their death tolls. 

Where the Ebola virus finds its hosts

“It is thought that fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family are natural Ebola virus hosts. Ebola is introduced into the human population through close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals such as chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats, monkeys, forest antelope and porcupines found ill or dead or in the rainforest.

“Ebola then spreads through human-to-human transmission via direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people, and with surfaces and materials (e.g. bedding, clothing) contaminated with these fluids.

“Health-care workers have frequently been infected while treating patients with suspected or confirmed EVD. This has occurred through close contact with patients when infection control precautions are not strictly practiced.

“Burial ceremonies in which mourners have direct contact with the body of the deceased person can also play a role in the transmission of Ebola. People remain infectious as long as their blood and body fluids, including semen and breast milk, contain the virus. Men who have recovered from the disease can still transmit the virus through their semen for up to 7 weeks after recovery from illness.” (World Health Organization)

First notice of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD)

Ebola first appeared in Sudan and Zaire in 1976. Its name is derived from the Ebola River located Zaire, later renamed the Northern Democratic Republic of the Congo.  The first outbreak was called the Sudan virus (SUDV). Within months a new strain of the virus appeared Zaire (Yambuku) and surrounding areas, infecting 318 Africans, killing 280 in the month of August. The Ebola virus (EBOV) was spread through one-on-one contact, reuse of contaminated needles and syringes in hospital and clinics. In 1977 Zaire had one Ebola case and one death. Sudan had 34 cases, resulting in 22 deaths.

“The first identified case of Ebola virus disease (EVD) caused by Ebola virus was on 26 August 1976, in this rural village 60 miles (96 km) south of the Ebola River, following a June 1976 outbreak of EVD in South Sudan caused by Sudan virfus. The index case (first case) was the headmaster of the local school, Mabalo Lokela.

“Lokela had toured an area near the border with the Central African Republic, along the Ebola River, with a small group from the Yambuku mission from August 12–22, 1976. On August 26, Lokela fell ill and was initially diagnosed with a relapse of malaria. By September 5, Lokela was in a critical condition with profuse bleeding from all orifices and on September 8 he died. As was the local custom, Lokela's mother, his wife Mbunzu's mother and sister, and other women friends helped prepare Lokela's body for burial. Within days most of them were seriously ill and many died shortly thereafter. The mission hospital's reuse of unsterilized needles also helped spread the infection.” (Wikipedia)

In 2013 to the present, the Ebola virus death count has spiraled upwards in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. America had one victim from Liberia to die in Texas, and seven American doctors and nurses who contracted the virus in West Africa. Five have been rendered Ebola free and the two of the nurses—Nina Pham and Amber Vinson. Pham is now Ebola free, and has visited the White House to meet with President Obama. Vinson is still quarantined but is expected to recover.

5 known species of the Ebola virus

Doctors, nurses, healthcare workers dress in hazmat suits to ensure their safety while tending Ebola patients in West Africa and now in America
The virus family Filoviridae includes 3 genera: Cuevavirus, Marburgvirus, and Ebolavirus. There are 5 species that have been identified: Zaire, Bundibugyo, Sudan, Reston and Taï Forest. The first 3, Bundibugyo ebolavirus, Zaire ebolavirus, and Sudan ebolavirus have been associated with large outbreaks in Africa. The virus causing the 2014 West African outbreak belongs to the Zaire species.

(A) There are only two known outbreaks of Ebola-Bundibugyo, but both have occurred within the last seven years. There have been 226 reported cases to date, with 73 resulting in death, which is a 32 percent fatality rate resulting in death, which is a 32 percent fatality rate. The first outbreak occurred from 2007-2008 in Uganda. The second and last outbreak occurred in 2012 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. (

(B) Reston (RESTV) causes Ebola virus disease in nonhuman primates . . . it is not known to cause disease in humans, but has caused asymptomatic infections. Reston was first discovered in 1990 as a new “strain” of the Ebola virus. Reston is named after Reston, Virginia where it was discovered. Seven known cases occurred in the United States. (Wikipedia)

(C) The Ebola-Sudan strain was first discovered in 1976. Of its five reported outbreaks to date, there have been a total of 784 infections, resulting in 421 deaths, which is a 53 percent fatality rate. The highest fatality rate ever recorded from an Ebola-Sudan outbreak 71 percent, which occurred in 2012, the last known Ebola-Sudan outbreak to date. The lowest fatality rate ever recorded is 41 percent, which occurred in 2004. Fatality rates from the other three Ebola-Sudan outbreaks are 53 percent in 1976, 65 percent in 1979 and 53 percent in 2000 and 2001. All five reported outbreaks have occurred in Sudan or Uganda. (

(D) Taï Forest virus (TAFV) causes severe disease in primates. TAFV was first introduced as a new “strain” of Ebola in 1995. The ecology of TAFV is currently unclear and no reservoir host has yet been identified. (Wikipedia)

There is only one known case of Ebola-Tai Forest, which occurred in 1994 when a scientist fell ill after reportedly conducting a necropsy on a chimpanzee. She flew to Switzerland, where she was treated and made a full recovery. (

(E) The first known outbreak of Ebola-Zaire occurred in 1976. Along with Ebola-Sudan, it is thought to be the oldest strain of Ebola. With 13 reported outbreaks since then, not including lab accidents where only one person was infected, it is the most common strain of Ebola. Unfortunately, it is also considered the most deadly. Even compared to the other two lethal strains of Ebola, the numbers for Ebola-Zaire are staggering. This strain has killed a total 2033 out of 3115 of its victims since its first outbreak in 1976, which is about a 65 percent fatality rate. (

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