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Officials consider new steps to screen travelers for Ebola – Part 2

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  • DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases:

    Well, the officials are looking now at the possibility of what we call entry screening.

    Right now, currently, if you are in a West African country and you go to an airport to try and get on a plane to go anywhere, including the United States, you get your temperature taken and you get a questionnaire about how you feel and your possible exposures.

    What’s being considered now is that, should there be more on the other end, on the arrival end? Should there be an additional layer of screening? And that is something that has been open for discussion and that is being discussed right now about what the pros and the cons of the added extra effort and investment to do some sort of entry-type screening.

    That certainly was one of the items on the agenda of the discussion at the White House.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    After what happened in Dallas, are you confident or more confident now that protocols are in place at hospitals around the country to detect and respond to any potential new cases?

  • DR. ANTHONY FAUCI:

    Yes, I am, Jeff. I’m fairly certain that that is going to happen.

    The CDC, for some time now, has been giving out these health alert networks, which are instructions about what you do or what you should do if someone comes in with symptoms compatible with Ebola, that you should ask a travel history and act on it accordingly if you get certain types of information.

    I think with all the publicity about what went on when there was that misstep in Dallas about losing those two days when the person first came to the emergency room, I think any emergency room physician or in a clinic now is very much aware of making sure they ask the right questions.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    And what about protecting health care workers themselves? Now we have this news out of — appears to have happened in Madrid with a nurse getting Ebola from someone brought there to a hospital, I gather.

    Are you concerned? Are you more optimistic about the protocols here in this country?

  • DR. ANTHONY FAUCI:

    Well, I am.

    I know that if the protocols are followed carefully, we have an extensive experience from Doctors Without Borders. They follow the protocols. It’s rare, rare that they ever get anyone that gets infected. It’s unfortunate that the Spanish nurse got infected as part of the care team for the Spanish priest who was taken from West Africa to Spain.

    But that happens. Sometimes, there’s a breach in protocol. Hopefully, that would be a very, very rare event.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    There’s also news out of Dallas with Thomas Eric Duncan, who is being cared for there, that he’s now being given an experimental drug. What do you know about that?

  • DR. ANTHONY FAUCI:

    Right.

    The experimental drug that Mr. Duncan is receiving is brincidofovir, which is a type of an analog of a drug called cidofovir, which has been used in another kind of viral infection. It is still in the experimental stage with regard to Ebola, but it has been given in other situations. So hopefully there will be some activity. We don’t know yet because it’s still experimental.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    But the drug we had heard about earlier, ZMapp, apparently no more of that. Now we hear about an experimental drug. Is there more in the pipeline because of what’s going on?

  • DR. ANTHONY FAUCI:

    There are several drugs, Jeff, that are in the pipeline.

    There’s the Tekmira drug, which is inhibitory molecule. There’s a drug called BCX4430, which is a molecule, a drug that blocks the building blocks of the genetic makeup of the virus. So there are several that are at the experimental stage. The brincidofovir that Mr. Duncan got was one of those in the experimental stage.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    All right, just in our last minute, I want to ask you about something else on the minds of many Americans. That’s the enterovirus. It’s now confirmed in 43 states, I believe it is, and over 500 cases or so.

    And now we have the 4-year-old New Jersey preschooler, confirmed — the first confirmed death really from the virus. And what’s interesting is that, apparently, he died — he went to sleep without any symptoms and died that night.

    Now, is that a surprise? What can you — what can we know about this?

  • DR. ANTHONY FAUCI:

    Well, that’s unusual, Jeff, if someone gets a viral illness who feels perfectly well and just dies in their sleep. It can happen. There can be really acute respiratory distress.

    I don’t know the case personally, but I have certainly seen cases where a child can feel reasonably well and get acute respiratory distress and die. The fact that if he died in his sleep, that is a different story, because that could be another mechanism.

    But getting back to the Enterovirus D68, this is a serious situation, as you mentioned correctly, 43 states, close to 500 — or over 500 cases, 590 I think is the last count. And it can be a serious disease, particularly for children who have a propensity to getting asthmatic symptoms when they get a viral infection. They can go into respiratory distress and really have a problem.

    And the recent reported deaths I think adds to that reality that this is a serious situation.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    All right, Dr. Anthony Fauci of NIH, thanks, as always.

  • DR. ANTHONY FAUCI:

    Good to be with you.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    And for all of the recent attention on the Ebola cases in the U.S., the toll in West Africa continues to rise, with more than 3,400 people already dead.

    Jerome Delay of the Associated Press has been chronicling the outbreak in Liberia for the past two weeks. He’s now in Paris. And I spoke with him by Skype a short time ago.

    You wrote in a blog report that people in Liberia are facing a kind of war, but one in which they can’t see the enemy. Explain what you mean by that. How is that playing out in homes and on the streets?

  • JEROME DELAY, Associated Press:

    Well, the thing is, you know, as I said in the piece I wrote for the AP, is the biggest danger you face in a war zone is the enemy, and if you can’t see it, you’re in real trouble.

    In Monrovia, and throughout the West Africa — African region, which is stricken by the Ebola virus, you cannot see the enemy, you cannot see the virus, per se. You just see what it does to people and the destruction, you know, that is happening all around it.

    And, in that sense, it is, I think, a very, very dangerous thing as a journalist to cover, but, also, it is the thing that is, you know, very difficult to control.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    I know you were trying to look at survivors, at families of victims, and the issue of stigma that is still there. Tell us what you saw.

  • JEROME DELAY:

    Well, I saw people were actually surviving from the virus. I will give you an example of Julius, who was a nurse and who actually treated people who were suffering from the virus and then got the virus himself, and gave himself some I.V.s for a few days, until he was admitted into the MSF clinic.

    And he survived and he is now a recovering — not even recovering — now he’s a — if you want, a survivor of Ebola, which allows him to work and help other people the same way he was helped by some people to — you know, against the virus.

    The main thing I want to say, though, is that I have spent a lot of time chasing ambulances, and there’s a lot of people there who need equipment and need material. You have just a few ambulances in Monrovia. And when they go and ask for PPE suits, protective equipment, all they get is a pair of gloves and a pair of boots, and that that makes their work very, very, very difficult and extremely dangerous.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    So you’re not seeing enough resources on the ground.

    I know you have covered a lot of wars and other things in Africa. How does this compare in terms of what you do see?

  • JEROME DELAY:

    Well, what you do see — actually, the danger is from what you do not see.

    But in terms of resources, yes, MSF is on the ground and they’re doing a tremendous job with the assets they have to try to stop the virus. But I will give you just one simple example. I went out for a day with an ambulance. They had an assignment to pick up 15 potential Ebola victims.

    They went to the ministry of health to some get gear, PPE suits, to get boots and so forth. Three of them in the ambulance, they were given two pairs of gloves and one pair of boots. And so they had to go and beg other places and try to locate the proper gear so they could do the job safely.

    And these are people who are dedicated and these are people really working very hard to try to stop the spreading of the disease, but if you don’t give them the means to do it properly, we have got a big problem.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    All right, Jerome Delay of the Associated Press, thank you so much.

  • JEROME DELAY:

    You’re welcome.

     

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