Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Font Size

Fighting Fear, Fatigue on the Front Lines of Ebola

WebMD Health News

Aug. 7, 2014 -- As the CDC continues to investigate how two Americans caught Ebola at the hospital where they worked in Liberia, another expert on the front lines of the infection says the answer is probably far more mundane than most people realize: They were exhausted.

Joseph Fair, PhD, is a molecular virologist with the Department of Defense. He's  serving as a special advisor to the minister of health in Sierra Leone, the country hardest hit by the outbreak.

Doctors and nurses caring for patients in Ebola wards are trained in the painstaking process of infection control, Fair says. They’re also issued head-to-toe white, Tyvek suits known as personal protective equipment, or PPE.

“Tyvek doesn’t breathe. You’re in some of the hottest, most humid conditions you can imagine,” Fair says. “In addition, you’re wearing goggles, rubber boots, and surgical gloves. You can imagine, after a 10-hour shift, you haven’t eaten. You get an itch on your nose, and without thinking you reach up and scratch your nose. And damn, you’ve had an exposure.”

“It’s those types of small little things that happen. It’s not because people aren’t trained or aren’t being careful,” he says.

'Just Like Battle'

To make matters worse, many of the local doctors and nurses at Kenema Government Hospital in Sierra Leone have stopped showing up to work.

“They’re scared to death,” Fair says. “This is just like battle, right? You either have people who run into the danger or people who run away from it,” he said in a telephone interview from Africa on Wednesday.

Fair has worked at Kenema Hospital before, but his vantage is a bit higher for this outbreak. He’s helping to coordinate the surge of resources the U.S. and other countries are sending to the region in an effort to contain the spread of the disease.

The doctors and nurses who remain at the hospitals are stretched almost to their breaking points, he says.

“They are given training before they ever go in, before they ever put the suits on. It’s called ‘just in time’ training, because that’s what it is. It’s given to people who’ve never seen a hemorrhagic fever before,” he says.

WebMD Video: Now Playing

Click here to wach video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Which sex is the worst about washing up? Why is it so important? We’ve got the dirty truth on how and when to wash your hands.

Click here to watch video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing