Friday, 27 February 2015

U.S. Ebola Survivor Dr. Craig Spencer Gives His Side of the Story


Former volunteer in fight against West African outbreak felt vilified by media, politicians

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Dennis Thompson

HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Feb. 26, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Many U.S. politicians and media outlets hyped the threat of U.S. cases of Ebola last year, according to a newly written personal account by Dr. Craig Spencer, the last American Ebola patient treated in the United States.

He also believes that officials and the media unnecessarily maligned those who were risking their lives to combat the West African epidemic.

Spencer contracted the virus while performing aid work at an Ebola treatment center in Guinea, and fell ill days after his return to New York City. He entered Bellevue Hospital on Oct. 23 as New York's first Ebola patient, and spent 19 days there recovering from his infection.

"Though I didn't know it then -- I had no television and was too weak to read the news -- during the first few days of my hospitalization, I was being vilified in the media even as my liver was failing and my fiancee was quarantined in our apartment," Spencer wrote in a letter in the Feb. 26 New England Journal of Medicine.

While he was in the hospital, media outlets hyped the potential threat of Ebola and criticized Spencer for going out into the city after his return, he wrote. At the same time, politicians used the virus seemingly to score election-season points with voters by enacting poorly considered quarantines.

"After my diagnosis, the media and politicians could have educated the public about Ebola," Spencer wrote. "Instead, they spent hours retracing my steps through New York and debating whether Ebola can be transmitted through a bowling ball."

Fear motivated these decisions, and Spencer said as an American aid worker he well understands that fear, "because I felt it on a personal level."

He often woke up in the middle of the night during his work in Guinea, sweating and heart racing, convinced that he'd contracted Ebola even though his temperature was normal.

"Ebola is frightening not just because of its high fatality rate, but also because of how little we know about it," he wrote. "We cannot explain exactly what it does to our bodies, nor tell patients who survive it how it may affect them in the future."

source : U.S. Ebola Survivor Dr. Craig Spencer Gives His Side of the Story

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