Health care workers in Sierra Leone stand a 100-fold chance of contracting Ebola than the general public, says a new report highlighting the worsening situation in the country.
With just about 2,400 workers for a country of 6 million people, Sierra Leone already has far too few health care workers to lose anymore to Ebola. It started the outbreak with two physicians for 100,000 people.
"We think of health care worker infections as a failure of personal protective equipment," Dr Peter Kilmarx of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who led the investigation told NBC News. "But there are so many different ways that they are exposed there."
The epidemic is worsening in Sierra Leone so much so that WHO experts are doubtful of getting it under control before the middle of next year and even that is possible only with more international support.
Just last week, the country lost three doctors to the outbreak.
What has been found is that false negative tests have placed the workers at high risk. Cases that report negative to later turn positive, as in the case of late Dr Martin Salia, see workers treating them without protection.
The investigation found that 30% of the surviving health care workers had been in contact with the body of someone who had died of Ebola.
While the solution would be to test patients more than once, the situation is such that test facilities are scarce and workers under work stress.
"We think of health care worker infections as a failure of personal protective equipment," Kilmarx said.
According to WHO, 622 healthcare workers have been infected and 346 of them have died in the affected countries.