If a person can get treatment, he or she has nearly a 40 percent chance of surviving Ebola. But for a pregnant woman and her fetus, Ebola is almost a death sentence. One small study found about 95 percent fatality rate. The woman invariably passes the virus to the fetus. And the fetus dies before labor, or it’s born and dies shortly after.
The devastation doesn’t stop there.
Both the baby and the woman’s amniotic fluid are flooded with Ebola virus — and are highly infectious.
“After a few days, the midwife who did that delivery came down with Ebola,” Bahr says. “She spent 21 days in a treatment center. It was only by the grace of God that she recovered.”
Many other midwives haven’t been so lucky.
Right outside Bahr’s office is a whiteboard. There are about three dozen photos taped on it. At the top, it says, “Nurses and midwives who have died during the Ebola crisis.”
This is a terribly tragic story that also illustrates just how devastating Ebola is when it gets out of hand. It is so infectious in pregnant women that even people wearing protective gear are at risk:
With so much blood and so much bodily fluid involved in deliveries, even doctors with access to protective gear are getting infected.
That’s how the American doctor Rick Sacra got Ebola in August. Sacra, who is now recovering in Worcester, Massachusetts, was helping pregnant women at a hospital outside Monrovia, called Eternal Love Winning Africa, or ELWA.
“Sacra was being very cautious,” says ELWA’s assistant director, Dr. John Fankhauser. “But it’s also just very risky. What we consider our two riskiest places are the OB ward and the operating room.
Is it really so wrong to err on the side of extreme caution when it comes to dealing with any potential outbreaks, even in places where stringent protocols are (allegedly) in place?