Ebola Virus No Stranger to Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Hamilton [YouTube]
Scientists with the Rocky Mountain Laboratories have been studying the Ebola virus for several years, working with other facilities around the world to develop effective treatments for the virulent disease.
Associate Director of Scientific Management at Rocky Mountain Laboratories, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Marshall Bloom, began the interview by stating categorically that the Ebola outbreak in Africa was extremely dangerous.
"I want to say that the current situation in West Africa is a humanitarian crisis of unprecedented and unimaginable proportions," Bloom said. "I think that western Montana should take pride in the fact that members of our community are able to go over and help in these humanitarian missions."
Bloom said Rocky Mountain Labs has been working on the Ebola virus for some time.
"Our laboratory has been working on the Ebola virus and similar biosafety level four viruses since about 2009," he said. "We have had investigators here working on potential vaccines for the Ebola virus since the time they got here. In addition, they have been involved in doing testing on some of the other therapies that people have read about in the popular media."
Bloom explained the relationship that Rocky Mountain Labs has with Missoula's St. Patrick Hospital.
"When we began planning for the building of our integrated research facility, there was a lawsuit filed, and as part of the settlement agreement, the National Institutes of Health agreed to oversee construction of a facility to take care of patients with serious infectious diseases at a hospital within 75 miles of Hamilton, Montana," Bloom said. "St. Patrick Hospital was awarded that contract, and that led to the construction of what they refer to as the Care and Isolation Unit. We have worked with the staff there to develop training protocols, we do drills and simulations. However, I must say, not in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine that that facility might be called in to play a role in a humanitarian crisis such as the one we're seeing in West Africa."
Bloom was careful to emphasize that almost any modern hospital in this country would be able to successfully treat a patient with the Ebola virus.
"One patient presented in Colorado as recently as 2008, and there were no problems reported, no secondary cases at all," Bloom said. "Even though the emphasis is on Ebola, any hospital with the proper precautions and following the extensive precautions sent out by the Centers For Disease Control, would be able to safely care for one of these patients."
Bloom concluded by expressing his confidence in the American medical care system to handle any infectious disease challenge.
"Our public health system and our medical care system is totally prepared to deal with these,"