In response to the second outbreak of Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of the Congo this year, the University of Nebraska Medical Center and Nebraska Medicine sent a team of infectious diseases experts to the East African nation of Uganda to help prevent the spread of the deadly disease.
“The best way to prevent a global spread of the disease is to contain it in the country where it starts,” says Dr. James Lawler, an infectious diseases expert and leader of the team working in Uganda. “UNMC and Nebraska Medicine are uniquely prepared to provide training in a situation like this, and our experience as one of four U.S. hospitals to successfully treat patients with Ebola during the West Africa outbreak in 2014 along with subsequent training and quarantine efforts have made us a world leader in this arena.”
The team of one doctor, three nurses and a respiratory therapist was tasked with training front line health care workers who are screening refugees at health clinics and intake stations associated with refugee camps in Western Uganda.
Members of the team left Omaha on Sept. 25 and flew to the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., to be vaccinated with an experimental Ebola vaccine along with a vaccine for yellow fever. They then travelled to various areas of Western Uganda and began training local health care workers beginning on Sept 29.
The vaccine, which UNMC/Nebraska Medicine used in a prior outbreak, has shown promise in stemming the tide of the disease during previous recent outbreaks. The team members are expected to return to Omaha Oct. 5.
UNMC'S Biocontainment Unit cared for three patients during the Ebola crisis of 2014.