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Lessons Learned From Ebola Epidemic Discussed At San Diego Conference

Peggy Pico talks with Amesh Adalja, member of the Infectious Disease Society of America, about flu vaccinations and other illnesses.

GUESTS:

Amesh Adalja, member, Infectious Disease Society of America

Mark Sawyer, pediatric infectious disease specialist, UC San Diego and Rady Children's Hospital

Transcript

Lessons learned from the 2014 Ebola outbreak will be a topic of conversation this week in San Diego when an Ebola survivor — who is a doctor — shares his experience before an infectious disease conference.

Last year's Ebola outbreak was the largest in history resulting in more than 11,000 deaths.

Ian Crozier became infected with Ebola after treating patients in Kenema, Sierra Leon, in August 2014.

Crozier was evacuated to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta and became critically ill. He survived after being given an experimental drug.

Amesh Adalja, a member of the Infectious Disease Society of America and senior associate with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, said a lot has been learned about Ebola from the outbreak.

“We’ve learned more about how Ebola spreads and also what kind of personal care equipment health care workers need to reduce the risk of transmission,” Adalja said.

Adalja said doctors learned that Ebola can live in semen longer than previously thought and that it can be found in an eyeball. They also learned about public outreach.

"The public health messaging we used in prior outbreaks did not necessarily transfer well to West Africa," Adalja told KPBS Midday Edition on Wednesday.

Adalja said Ebola can be cured by "plain supportive care." For example, he said, many patients were suffering from massive dehydration and electrolyte imbalances, and that is easy to correct.

"We have a whole menu of options now to treat Ebola," he said.

The IDWeek conference — which is a joint meeting among four medical associations — runs Wednesday through Sunday at the San Diego Convention Center. The four participating groups are the Infectious Diseases Society of America, Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America, HIV Medicine Association and the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society.

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