Chicago doctors' personal ties to Ebola outbreak

Chicago doctors have worked in Liberia's main hospital and have a personal connection to a Liberian doctor who has died from Ebola.
Chicago doctors have worked in Liberia's main hospital and have a personal connection to a Liberian doctor who has died from Ebola.

Liberia is in the hot zone of the Ebola outbreak. University of Chicago Doctor Keegan Checkett has spent time at the country's main hospital, where Ebola patients are now being treated.

"They are a hard-working, dedicated people who really take care of each other. It's like no other country I have ever worked in," said Dr. Checkett.

Dr. Checkett is part of an academic-based program called "Healthcare Education and Relief Through Teaching," where U.S. doctors travel to under-developed countries like Liberia. During her trips, Dr. Checkett met Dr. Samuel Brisbane, a Liberian doctor who contracted Ebola and died this week.

"An incredible man and consummate physician. He was hard-working, he was talented, he was dedicated," said Dr. Checkett.

Two American missionaries, Nancy Writebol, and Dr. Kent Brantly are being treated for Ebola in Liberia. Their organization, Samaritan's Purse, reports that Dr. Brantly took a slight turn for the worse overnight after he asked that the one single dose of available "experimental serum" be given to Writebol instead of him.

That points to the larger health care issue about cures and vaccines, and for Ebola, neither one exists, but Dr. Emily Landon says vaccine scientists are working on it.

"They're having trouble and they are also having successes. It's a complex process to try and make and it's very difficult because not that many people get Ebola," said Dr. Landon, University of Chicago Medicine's Infectious Diseases and Global Health.

Meantime, officials from five African countries spent time in Chicago Thursday, talking about improving aviation and rail travel. U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx opened the meeting, emphasizing that U.S. travel officials are monitoring the outbreak.

"I can tell you the top people in government are talking about this issue and trying to figure out what if anything needs to happen. But I would just caution people not to overreact," said Foxx.

Doctors want to reiterate that Ebola is not spread through casual contact. You must come in direct contact with an infected person's bodily fluids.
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health ebola health u.s. & world Chicago - Hyde Park
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