TIME ebola

Dallas Nurses Describe Comforting Ebola Patient As He Lay Dying

Texas Hospital Patient Confirmed As First Case Of Ebola Virus Diagnosed In US
Dr. Edward Goodman, epidemiologist at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, answers questions during a media conference at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas where a patient has been diagnosed with the Ebola virus on September 30, 2014 in Dallas, Texas. Mike Stone—Getty Images

Frightened nurses gritted their teeth and cared for the dying man

Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian national who unknowingly traveled to the United States carrying Ebola, died of the virus ten days after he was admitted to Texas Presbyterian Hospital. In the intervening period, Duncan was cared for by nurses who risked their lives to save him.

In interviews that will be aired Sunday on CBS’s 60 Minutes, the nurses describe for the first time trying to treat Duncan before his death. They recall holding the dying man’s hand as Duncan’s own family was not permitted in the room for fear of contracting the disease.

“I was very frightened,” says intensive care nurse Sidia Rose, according to transcripts of the interview. “I was. But — and I just dried my tears, rolled down my sleeves, so to speak, and — went on about my night.”

John Mulligan treated Duncan in his final hours of intensive care. “By the time he had — I saw him on October 1st — his — his nausea and vomiting had pretty much subsided. That aspect of it was over. He had a rectal tube in place so he didn’t — he was — had gotten so weak, he couldn’t get up to the commodes anymore. So that was to help contain all of his very infectious body fluids that we were dealing with,” Mulligan recalls.

“On the first day he didn’t say much. He — he was — you could look in his eyes and tell he just didn’t feel good,” Mulligan continues. “And we offered him words of encouragement. We let him know that we’re here, whatever you need — let us know and we’ll get it. And we held his hand and talked to him and comforted him because his family couldn’t be there. I mean, you can’t take that risk with this type of disease of exposing, you know, loved ones, as much as you want them there. It’s just not a possibility.”

Duncan died on October 8. Two nurses contracted the disease from their contact with Duncan, but at least one has since recovered.

TIME ebola

Study: Current Aid Promises Won’t Contain Liberia’s Ebola Outbreak

LIBERIA-HEALTH-EBOLA-WAFRICA
Health workers from the Liberian Red Cross wear protective gear as they shovel sand which will be used to absorb fluids emitted from the bodies of Ebola victims in front of the ELWA 2 Ebola management center in Monrovia on October 23, 2014. Zoom Dosso —AFP/Getty Images

Liberia does not have the resources it needs to end the Ebola outbreak any time soon.

The amount of treatment center beds and infection control resources needed to curb the Ebola epidemic in Montserrado County, Liberia vastly surpasses the donations pledged for the region from the international community, scientists say.

In a new report published in the journal The Lancet Infectious Diseases, researchers from Yale School of Public Health used modeling to compare estimates of case numbers in Liberia to currently available resources as well as those resources promised by international bodies. Their data show that without significantly scaled up efforts, there will be 170,996 cases of Ebola and 90,122 deaths related to the virus in Montserrado County by Dec. 15. But, the researchers say that if there’s a significantly ramped up effort that provides 4,800 treatment beds and a fivefold increase in detection and diagnostics in November, there could be 77,312 cases prevented by the same date.

Here’s the problem: The United States, for example, has only promised 1,700 beds to all of West Africa. Clearly, those numbers do not match up, making catastrophic projections for case and death tolls all the more realistic.

“While the window of opportunity for timely control of the Ebola outbreak has passed, the risk of catastrophic devastation both in West Africa and beyond has only just begun,” said study author Alison Galvani, a professor of epidemiology at Yale in a statement. “While vaccines to prevent Ebola remain unavailable, our study urges a rapid and immediate scaling-up of all currently available non-pharmaceutical intervention strategies to minimize the occurrence of new cases and deaths.”

But where is that scale-up going to come from? The answer is unfortunately unapparent.

TIME ebola

Christie and Cuomo Announce Mandatory Ebola Quarantine

Andrew Cuomo, Chris Christie
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, center, and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, right, speaks at a news conference, Oct. 24, 2014 in New York. Mark Lennihan—AP

State health department staff will be on the ground at state airports

Healthcare workers returning to New York or New Jersey after treating Ebola patients in West Africa will be placed under a mandatory quarantine, officials announced Friday, one day after a Doctors Without Borders doctor was diagnosed with the virus in New York City.

N.J. Gov. Chris Christie and N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo made the announcement as part of a broader procedural plan to help protect the densely packed, highly populated area from any further spread of the disease.

“Since taking office, I have erred on the side of caution when it comes to the safety and protection of New Yorkers, and the current situation regarding Ebola will be no different,” Gov. Cuomo said. “The steps New York and New Jersey are taking today will strengthen our safeguards to protect our residents against this disease and help ensure those that may be infected by Ebola are treated with the highest precautions.”

New York and New Jersey state health department staff will be present on the ground at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York and Newark Liberty Airport in New Jersey. In addition to implementing the mandatory quarantine of health care workers and others who had direct contact with Ebola patients, health department officials in each state will determine whether others should travelers should be hospitalized or quarantined.

The announcement marks a dramatic escalation in measures designed to prevent the spread of Ebola in the United States. Previously, only individuals with symptoms of Ebola would be quarantined upon entry to the U.S. under a federal rule from the Centers for Diseases Control and the Department of Homeland Security.

TIME ebola

Obama Hugs Nurse Who Survived Ebola

President Barack Obama hugs nurse Nina Pham, who was declared free of the Ebola virus after contracting the disease while caring for a Liberian patient in Texas, during a meeting in the Oval Office in Washington on Oct. 24, 2014.
President Barack Obama hugs nurse Nina Pham, who was declared free of the Ebola virus after contracting the disease while caring for a Liberian patient in Texas, during a meeting in the Oval Office in Washington on Oct. 24, 2014. Saul Loeb—AFP/Getty Images

The nurse was cleared of Ebola Friday morning

A few days ago, Dallas nurse Nina Pham lay in bed in an isolated hospital room at National Institutes of Health (NIH) where her doctors donned hazmat suits to care for her. On Friday, President Barack Obama hugged Pham, now free of Ebola, in the open air of the Oval Office.

“Let’s give a hug for the cameras,” he told Pham.

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell, NIH infectious disease head Anthony Fauci, along with several other doctors and family members, were also present at the Friday meeting.

Pham contracted Ebola while caring for Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the United States, who died Oct. 8 at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. Pham was subsequently moved to NIH in Maryland to undergo treatment, and was declared Ebola-free Friday morning.

After a patient was diagnosed with Ebola in New York City on Thursday, the hug was a triumphant moment amid continued fear over the potential for Ebola to spread in the U.S. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told journalists at press briefing Friday that Pham’s recovery served as “a pretty apt reminder that we do have the best medical infrastructure in the world.”

TIME ebola

Mali Aims to Limit Ebola Spread After First Case Dies

Electron micrograph of Ebola virus
NIAID/EPA

Two-year-old girl from Guinea tested positive on Oct. 23, died the next day

A two-year-old Guinean girl who recently traveled to Mali and was later confirmed to have Ebola has died, officials said on Friday, one day after her positive diagnosis meant the virus had reached its sixth nation in West Africa.

The child died around 4 p.m. local time at a treatment center in the western town of Kayes, a health official told Reuters. On Thursday, Health Minister Ousmane Kone told state television that she had traveled from neighboring Guinea, where more than 900 people have died in an outbreak that has killed nearly 4,900 and infected more than 9,900 others. The girl was admitted to a hospital on Wednesday night, where she tested positive for Ebola.

Health officials told the World Health Organization (WHO), according to a report released Friday, that she was accompanied to Mali by her grandmother. The girl’s mother was reported to have died a few weeks earlier, but WHO could not yet confirm that the grandmother went to Kissidougou, in southern Guinea, for the funeral. The pair returned to Mali by public transportation and arrived in the capital, Bamako, where they stayed for two hours before moving on to Kayes.

The girl had begun bleeding from the nose before she left Guinea, the report found, “meaning that the child was symptomatic during their travels through Mali” and that “multiple opportunities for exposure occurred when the child was visibly symptomatic.” The initial investigation identified 43 close and unprotected contacts, including 10 health workers.

The Ministry of Health and Public Hygiene said in a statement it had “taken all necessary steps to prevent the spread of the virus” and the government called for calm, claiming it had identified and isolated those who had contact with the child and begun monitoring for symptoms. Tracing this particular case is “a work-in-progress,” Isabelle Nuttall, the WHO’s director of Global Capacities, Alert and Response, tells TIME. WHO had already sent a team of 10 to Mali at the beginning of the week to work on mobilization activities and preparedness operations, and is sending more as part of a rapid response team.

Mali still has its border open to travelers from Guinea, though border checkpoints and health points have been implemented on major roads and crossings. Greg Rose, health advisor to the British Red Cross, says the fact that the child is now “in a more remote location is a good thing” because Kayes is not situated on the main transport routes (unlike larger towns situated on the Niger River) and only has a population of around 127,000, a fraction of Bamako’s 1.8 million. Another positive, Rose says, is that “it doesn’t look like the situation from where this child has come is out of control,” which could reduce the risk of transmission. He adds that Kissidougou, where the child’s mother is believed to have died, has seen relatively few cases since the beginning of the epidemic and is now the site of a treatment center.

Rose believes that being able to isolate people who are asymptomatic will prove a major advantage for Mali. Since the government has reacted very quickly and identified this case early, he adds, it will be able to do much more to contain any spread of Ebola from this sole case. In comparison, “when you have a disseminated outbreak like in Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone, where resources are limited, they can only isolate symptomatic people.”

Nuttall believes it is still too premature to assess the effectiveness of Mali’s public health response. But “so far, it looks good,” Rose says. “If you look back to Guinea when the outbreak first began in January of this year, nothing was being done because everybody was taken by surprise,” he adds. “Experience of Ebola in other contexts had shown that Ebola outbreaks tend to burn out so Guinea was neglected, which is why this got out of hand.”

While experts believe Mali’s health system is stronger than some of its neighbors, it is still quite weak. “In this part of Africa, as a general rule, the health system needs to be strengthened,” Nuttall says. Maternal mortality ratio, which Rose says is a solid indicator of public health infrastructure because it depends so much on the provision of health services and skilled attendants, is at 550 deaths per 100,000 live births in Mali. That figure isn’t as high as other countries affected by Ebola — Liberia stands at 640, Guinea at 650 and Sierra Leone at 1,100 — but is still remarkably high when compared with the U.S. (28 per 100,000) and the U.K., at just eight.

As the situations in Nigeria and Senegal have shown — both were recently declared Ebola-free — it is possible to contain the virus and control the epidemic. But as more cases pop up in the three hardest-hit countries, and now with Mali’s first case quickly turning deadly, controlling anxiety and fear alongside any actual spread could be a feat.

TIME ebola

Hazmat Suit Maker’s Stock Prices Surge on Ebola News

Lakeland Industries stock surged nearly 25% Thursday

Shares in hazmat suit manufacturer Lakeland Industries surged nearly 25% Thursday following news of New York City’s first Ebola patient. While a Friday decline subsequently cut those gains in half, that still left the company worth more than twice as much as it had been worth at the beginning of the year.

The protective equipment industry is just one of many that has been affected by this year’s Ebola outbreak. Airlines and manufacturers of other Ebola-related products, including experimental treatments, have experienced enormous market volatility as the path of the disease continues to evolve.

Shares in Tekmira Pharmaceuticals, which is developing an experimental Ebola drug, are up nearly 140% this year, but the gains have not been consistent and have at times met with dramatic declines.

Other stocks to watch include Amgen and Johnson & Johnson. Both pharmaceutical companies announced recently that they would work on treatments for the disease.

TIME ebola

NYC Officials Trace Ebola Patient’s Steps as Mayor Urges Calm

Three others have been quarantined

As health officials work to clear anyone who may have come into contact with New York City’s first Ebola patient, Mayor Bill DeBlasio reassured residents that the city is prepared to treat Ebola patients and is not at risk of a widespread Ebola outbreak.

“New Yorkers who have not been exposed to an infected person’s bodily fluids are simply not at risk,” said DeBlasio at a Friday press conference. “We’ve had clear and strong protocols from the beginning, and they have been followed to the letter.”

Health officials are currently contacting everyone Ebola patient Craig Spencer may have come into contact with since Tuesday morning “in an abundance of caution,” according to New York City Health Commissioner Mary Travis Bassett. Spencer, a doctor who returned from Guinea on Oct. 17, was diagnosed with Ebola Thursday.

Spencer’s fiancee, along with two friends, has been quarantined and restricted from public spaces. Gutter and Blue Bottle, a bowling alley and coffee shop visited by the patient, have been cleared and reopened, and a third establishment, the Meatball Shop, is closed temporarily but is expected to be cleared.


A Metropolitan Transportation Authority official told TIME that the city’s subway system is safe to ride, but noted that protocols had been updated to ensure safe handling of any potentially infectious waste. Spencer reportedly rode the subway from his home in Harlem to Brooklyn Wednesday.

Spencer is being treated in an isolation unit at New York’s Bellevue Hospital. He is in stable condition and communicating with friends via cell phone, officials said.

–additional reporting by Alice Park

TIME Media

In Cable Ebola Coverage, It’s the Story Versus the Facts

Israeli-US actor and musician, member of the band Kiss, Gene Simmons poses during a photocall for the TV serie "Gene Simmons" as part of the MIPCOM, on Oct. 14, 2014 in Cannes, southeastern France.
Israeli-US actor and musician, member of the band Kiss, Gene Simmons poses during a photocall for the TV serie "Gene Simmons" as part of the MIPCOM, on Oct. 14, 2014 in Cannes, southeastern France. Valery Hache—AFP/Getty Images

As the disease comes to New York City, 24-hour news wavers between science and sensationalism. But what does Gene Simmons think?

The guest on Friday’s Fox News’s panel show Outnumbered gave a damning assessment of the government’s response to Ebola, after a Manhattan doctor who had recently returned from West Africa was diagnosed with Ebola Thursday night. “In point of fact, we are completely unprepared for things like this,” the guest said. “We can’t even take the simple precaution of not letting anybody from a certain part of Africa come into America before you pass a health test. The fact that this doctor and this nurse [in Dallas] were just allowed to run around… is lunacy.”

The guest was Gene Simmons. As in Gene Simmons from the face-painted ’70s rock band KISS.

Now, I don’t mean to imply that Simmons lacks the medical authority to talk about Ebola policy. He did, after all, write “Calling Dr. Love.” He’s practically a diagnostic professional! But that comment summed up where a story like Ebola is eventually bound to go once cable news has had enough time with it.

In any breaking news incident, you have the facts and then you have the story. The facts are what happened. The story is why you care–the details, quotes, opinions and fears that make the facts juicy. In cable news, the story generally wins.

So Thursday night, the facts were: Someone in New York City had Ebola. Dr. Craig Spencer, who had been volunteering with Doctors Without Borders treating patients in Guinea, had come back to Manhattan. He’d followed the accepted guidelines for self-monitoring, checking his temperature twice daily, and watching, per the medical organization’s guidelines, for “relevant symptoms including fever.” When he detected a fever that morning–before which, he would not have been infectious–he went to the hospital.

But then there’s the story! The story was that the day before Spencer went to the hospital, he went bowling! He rode in an Uber vehicle! He went jogging and ate at a restaurant and walked in a park. He rode the subway–the crowded subway! None of this, according to medical science on Ebola, presented a danger from a nonsymptomatic person. But it felt wrong in people’s guts. And that makes a better story.

Thursday and Friday’s cable coverage showed plainly this struggle between story and facts. At times, the dichotomy was present in the words and images of the same report. Friday morning on CNN, the top-of-the-hour news noted that Spencer was not contagious, according to authorities, when he went out Wednesday–but only after it ran down the subway-taxi-bowling story and said the city was “on edge.” Anchor John Berman interviewed experts including Daniel Bausch of the Department of US Medical Naval Research, who said “it looks like everything was done right” in the Spencer case. The on-screen graphic: “EBOLA IN NEW YORK: REASON TO WORRY?”

The coverage, like so many stories, has also become an extension of partisan politics. There are midterms coming up: Republicans are invested in a crisis-of-confidence narrative while the Democrats must convey an everything’s-under-control narrative. So on Fox, Sean Hannity was hammering the government for being unprepared, and seemingly every host was hitting the refrain that Spencer was “fatigued” when he went out Wednesday. MSNBC, on the other hand, emphasized the low risk this case posed to New Yorkers along with the generally positive response to New York’s public-health response to date.

As for CNN under Jeff Zucker, it is biased as always toward the juicier story. In a noontime report, correspondent Jean Casarez noted that an NYPD team had photographed some trash outside Spencer’s apartment, and then left. “So it’s still sitting out there right now?” Banfield asked, adding that she’d seen police throwing latex gloves into street trash. Had the gloves been anywhere near any dangerous fluids? Is any of that trash an actual risk? Who knows? There was no further information. But the detail sounded spooky, so the report just left it sitting there, like the recycling bags on the curb.

By midday Friday, the general tone of coverage shifted to one that was less anxious, partly because better news had broken: Dallas nurse Nina Pham was declared Ebola-free in her recovery, and Spencer, it turned out, had not had the 103 degree fever first reported Thursday night, but a much lower 100.3-degree fever–undercutting the insinuations that he might have been sicker on Wednesday. Then too, there seemed to be a growing awareness that Spencer had, after all, contracted the disease by risking his life to help others, and it was maybe unseemly to present him as some kind of arrogant bowling menace.

For now, the news fever seemed under control. But it was a reminder all the same. Ebola may only be spread through contact with infected bodily fluids. Fear and anxiety are much more easily transmitted, through the air.

TIME ebola

How to Talk to Your Kids About Ebola

Electron micrograph of Ebola virus
NIAID/EPA

Here's the best way to calm kids' fear and anxiety over Ebola

Even Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Tom Frieden admits it: “Ebola is scary.” But for kids seeing alarming headlines without understanding the context of the disease, Ebola can seem like a looming and personal threat.

TIME spoke to Dawn Huebner, a clinical child psychologist and author of the book What to Do When You Worry Too Much: A Kid’s Guide to Overcoming Anxiety about the best way to talk about Ebola with your kids—without scaring them silly.

What should I say to my child who is really scared about Ebola?
Let them know that it’s important to think about proximity—how close they themselves are to the virus. Which is to say: not very. “It’s really important to underline that we are safe in the United States, and that people who have contracted Ebola have been in West Africa or were treating patients with Ebola,” says Huebner. “Not only should parents underline how rare Ebola is, and how far away the epidemic is occurring, but also how hard the disease is to contract.” Huebner says parents can tell their older children that direct contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids like vomit or diarrhea is necessary to spread Ebola. “This has been reassuring to the children I see, as they know they are not going to be touching that,” she says.

By ages 7 and up, kids begin to grasp that their worries and fears aren’t always rational. “Parents can talk to kids about how one of the ways worries and anxiety get their power is by making us think about things that are very unlikely,” says Huebner.

Should I keep my child away from the news?
Your kids can watch the news to stay informed, but media overload is not always a good thing. “The news is often sensationalized and gives kids the idea that they are at an imminent risk,” says Huebner. When kids see endless stories about Ebola on the news, they don’t always realize they’re hearing the same thing on loop. “I’ve had kids come into my office who are under the impression that there are hundreds of people in the U.S. with Ebola.”

How do I know if my child is reacting appropriately to the news?
“An appropriate reaction would be to feel nervous and ask some questions, but to be reassured by the parents’ answers,” says Huebner. Psychologists distinguish between questions that are information-gathering, and questions that are reassurance-seeking. If a child asks reassurance-seeking questions—like “Are we going to be ok?”—once or twice, that’s normal. But asking the same questions over and over signifies that a child is really dealing with anxiety and that their concern is not being curbed. At that point, parents may need to sit their children down for a longer conversation to address their fears and concerns.

My kids don’t want to fly on an airplane over the holidays. How do I convince them they are safe?
It’s important to emphasize that the vacation destination is one that is safe, and not at great risk for Ebola. Parents can also stress that no one in the United States has yet contracted Ebola from a plane ride. However, parents should avoid making comparisons, like “It’s more likely to get in a car crash than to get Ebola.” That will only stress a child out more.

Ebola freaks me out too, and I accidentally overreacted in front of my child. How do I fix this?
“One of the wonderful things about children is that you really can revisit things that didn’t go so well the first time,” says Huebner. If parents slip up with an overreaction, they should have a conversation with their children and reference the moment. She suggests a conversation opener like this one: “I was thinking about when you overheard me on the phone with my friend. I was really overreacting. I got nervous when I heard about Ebola, and you saw me when I was nervous. Now I’ve gotten information and I’ve calmed down, and I’ve realized this is a very sad thing that’s happening far away. It’s sad, but it doesn’t have to be scary for us.” Rational, calm conversations will help ease a child’s fears about Ebola.

MONEY Health Care

Why You Should Forget About Ebola and Get a Free Flu Shot Instead

Flu Shot Sign
Getty Images

Americans are nearly as worried about Ebola as they are about catching the flu. But influenza is the risk you should pay attention to. And you probably don't need to spend a penny to protect yourself.

Take a break from worrying about Ebola and get a flu shot this fall. While the Ebola virus has so far affected just four people in the United States, tens of millions are expected to get influenza this season. More than 200,000 of them will be hospitalized and up to 49,000 will likely die from it, according to figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A new HuffPost/YouGov poll of 1,000 adults found that the flu is perceived as only slightly more threatening than the Ebola virus, however. Forty-five percent of people polled said that the flu posed a bigger threat to Americans than Ebola, but a substantial 40% said it was the other way around. Fifteen percent said they weren’t sure.

“Ebola is new, mysterious, exotic, highly fatal, and strange, and people don’t have a sense of control over it,” says William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine and infectious disease at Vanderbilt University.

Influenza, on the other hand, is a familiar illness that people often think they can easily control, Schaffner says. “They think, ‘I could get vaccinated, I could wash my hands’ and prevent it.”

Yet that familiarity may lead to complacency. Flu shots are recommended for just about everyone over six months of age, but less than half of people get vaccinated each year.

Now there’s even more reason to get a shot. The health law requires most health plans to cover a range of preventive benefits at no cost to consumers, including recommended vaccines. The flu shot is one of them. (The only exception is for plans that have been grandfathered under the law.)

The provision making the vaccine available with no out-of-pocket expense is limited to services delivered by a health care provider that is part of the insurer’s network.

Depending on the plan, that could include doctors’ offices, pharmacies, or other outlets.

Medicare also covers flu shots without patient cost sharing.

Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan health policy research and communication organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser