• USPHS Officers on Front Line of Ebola Hospital Staffing

    A White House Office of the Press Secretary-issued FACT SHEET entitled "The U.S. Government's Response to Ebola at Home and Abroad" identifies the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps as operating and staffing a hospital for infected health workers. The USPHS is preparing a cadre of 65+ officers, composed of Safety / Preventive Medicine, Pharmacy, Nurse, Physician, and support staff for 60 day mission rotations to operate a treatment facility for health care workers who have contracted Ebola Virus Disease (EVD). The 25-bed hospital will be established in Liberia, West Africa. The USPHS officers will be selected from multiple Tier deployment teams.

    To illustrate the challenges faced by health care workers, symptoms may present post 2 - 21 days after exposure to body fluids, which include fever, unexplained bruising, headache, vomiting, stomach pain, muscle pain, unexplained bleeding, and diarrhea. This means constant vigilance among health care workers and our officers to be both self-aware and observe others for symptoms. Further complicating ebola symptomology, West Africa is a physical and mental challenge due to heat stress and vectorborne / foodborne / waterborne transmitted diseases that can cause physical symptoms similar to EVD. Officers will need to be in optimal fitness and heat acclimatized as much as possible.

    At symptom onset, transmission of the virus can occur from contact with blood, saliva, urine, tears/conjunctive tissue, sweat, vomitus and feces. After symptom onset, death occurs (on average) after 10 days without intervention. If the patient survives into convalescence, secretions of blood, urine, tears/conjunctive tissue, semen, vaginal, milk and fecal matter may transmit the virus over 84 days post symptom onset. Medevac from Liberia takes approximately 3 days, and return from Africa approximately 5 - 7 days, after which officers will need to monitor themselves for symptom onset.

    The U.S. Public Health Service is the only uniformed service taking a role in direct patient care. The Department of Defense will provide specimen testing and health care worker training, logistics and infrastructure.