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(1,563 posts)
Thu Oct 2, 2014, 11:02 PM Oct 2014

Account from Ebola survivor Nancy Writebol


Q: Any idea how you became infected?

N.W.: I don’t know how I became infected and how I contracted it. There are some thoughts about how I might have gotten it. Nobody is really sure, least of all me. I never felt like I was unsafe and I never felt like I walked into a situation where I was being exposed. I was on the low-risk side of things. I never was in the crisis or the Ebola center. I was always on the outside. I made sure doctors and nurses were dressed properly before they went in, and I decontaminated them before they went out. We kept a close check on each other about whether people felt safe.

We had an employee who was doing the same job that I was doing. He got sick and I didn’t know he was sick. He didn’t tell anybody. He actually thought he had typhoid. The day that I started having symptoms, at least a fever, was the last day I saw him. He did have Ebola. He did not survive.

I never remember touching him, although it’s possible he could have picked up a sprayer to decontaminate someone, and I could have picked up the sprayer. Or we touched the same thing. I never touched him.

Q: You were educated about Ebola transmission?

N.W.: Oh my goodness, yes.

Q: Did you have sufficient personal protective equipment (PPE)?

N.W.: Yes, we did. It was my responsibility to make sure they were dressed properly in PPEs before they ever went into the isolation. I didn’t want any of our doctors or nurses getting infected. I mean, I saw people dying of Ebola. We had PPEs and followed every single protocol that [Doctors Without Borders (MSF)] had in their manual—and we had been trained by MSF.


She could be mistaken or downplaying her contact, but the fact she was not directly treating Ebola victims is somewhat disturbing to me.
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Account from Ebola survivor Nancy Writebol (Original Post) BlindTiresias Oct 2014 OP
This part about her husband living with her for 4 days, and about how she may have gotten it uppityperson Oct 2014 #1
I believe they disinfect with bleach solution. Barack_America Oct 2014 #2
Indeed BlindTiresias Oct 2014 #4
This is an interesting report. I agree, this is disturbing, to say the least TheNutcracker Oct 2014 #3
It's not "disturbing". It's pretty much inevitable. kestrel91316 Oct 2014 #6
I'm sure she got it by injecting herself with infected blood, or kestrel91316 Oct 2014 #5
She likely Aerows Oct 2014 #7
Ebola needs to start reading DU Union Scribe Oct 2014 #8


(115,677 posts)
1. This part about her husband living with her for 4 days, and about how she may have gotten it
Thu Oct 2, 2014, 11:09 PM
Oct 2014

Thank you for this article, hadn't seen it.

Q: Were you wearing PPE in your job, disinfecting doctors and nurses?

N.W.: No, I was wearing gloves and a disposable apron. There were times I had a mask on. I was behind a line where I did the disinfecting. They were on one side of a line and I was on the other side. I never crossed those lines. We just don’t even have a clue what happened.

I’ve often wondered if I was back there now, having been through the experience, what would I do differently. The only thing is I took temperatures of family members who would come to see patients. I never had to turn anybody away because they had a temperature, but it’s possible I might have come in contact with somebody on the outside who had Ebola and maybe shook a hand? Although we weren’t really shaking hands with anybody. Most people had a fear of even us. They felt like to be involved with Ebola, you had it.


Q: Was David there?

N.W.: Yes. It’s just the grace of God that David did not come down with Ebola. For the whole 4 days that they thought it was just malaria, David did the cooking at our home. I just didn’t feel good. We were still sharing our bedroom. Our doctor was exposed and she had dinner with us the night she told us I had Ebola. I’d had malaria once that year. I knew what it felt like and it was so similar.


(28,876 posts)
2. I believe they disinfect with bleach solution.
Thu Oct 2, 2014, 11:20 PM
Oct 2014

Diluted bleach breaks down very quickly, particularly when exposed to sunlight. I would wonder about ones risk if they were hosing down this equipment with insufficient bleach and no mask. Or if you miss a spot on the equipment and then handle it without sufficient protection. There are so many little things that could go wrong if you don't have sufficient protective equipment, or are trying to reuse it rather than discard it.

I don't know, however she got infected, it was via direct contact.


(1,563 posts)
4. Indeed
Thu Oct 2, 2014, 11:28 PM
Oct 2014

But the matter of environmental transmission was somewhat murky, if she indeed was never in direct contact with anyone infected with Ebola then she picked it up from something in the environment.



(51,666 posts)
6. It's not "disturbing". It's pretty much inevitable.
Thu Oct 2, 2014, 11:45 PM
Oct 2014

The doctors were in PPE. She was apparently not, yet she was decontaminating them after they got dirty.

You expose yourself enough, eventually you're going to lose the crap shoot.

CDC says right up front that this disease can be caused by as few as 1-10 virus particles. Put them in the right place, and it's game, set, match.

You can never be too careful with Ebola, IOW.



(51,666 posts)
5. I'm sure she got it by injecting herself with infected blood, or
Thu Oct 2, 2014, 11:42 PM
Oct 2014

taking a bath in contaminated urine and feces. I've been assured by many DUers that it's REALLY REALLY REALLY hard to catch, so she really had to be doing something wrong. Maybe sex with a victim.

Union Scribe

(7,099 posts)
8. Ebola needs to start reading DU
Fri Oct 3, 2014, 12:00 AM
Oct 2014

so it can learn about itself, then it won't do these crazy things! It probably didn't even realize it was infecting an American, which is a major faux pas.

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