The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has claimed more than 1,000 lives since it first appeared in March, making it one of the worst in history. Because it is the first major outbreak in the region, health care workers were ill prepared to contain the virus and protect themselves and others, allowing the disease to spread quickly.
But hospitals all over the world are stepping up their game in preparation, should the virus jump continents. The Charité hospital in Berlin has the largest isolation unit in Germany and can handle up to 20 patients suffering from highly infectious diseases.
Recently, two doctors from the unit — tropical medicine Doctor Florian Steiner and ward physician Thomas Klotzkowski — conducted a methodical, confidence-inspiring dry run for all to see.
"We are very much safe," Dr. Steiner said. "I'm not afraid of an outbreak in Germany. I don't want to say it's not possible that someone arrives here with one, two causalities, but it's not going to be an outbreak like a thousand people are going to be dying."
Step inside the isolation ward, to see what it looks like to contain and treat this highly infectious disease.
Protective suits hang in the quarantine station for patients with infectious diseases at the Charite hospital in Berlin. The sign reads: "Do not enter. Infections diseases. No trespassing." | (REUTERS/Thomas Peter)
Dr. Florian Steiner (left) and ward physician Thomas Klotzkowski (right) put on high-pressure protective suits. | (REUTERS/Thomas Peter)
Steiner and Klotzkowsky walk through Charite's isolation ward, which is one of several centers in Germany equipped to treat patients suffering from Ebola. | (REUTERS/Thomas Peter)
Dr. Steiner looks through a microscope. | (REUTERS/Thomas Peter)
Dr. Steiner demonstrates the testing of a blood sample. | (REUTERS/Thomas Peter)
Ward physician Thomas Klotzkowski stands in a sick unit. | (REUTERS/Thomas Peter)
The doctors spray each other off in a disinfection chamber after exiting the isolation ward. | (REUTERS/Thomas Peter)
The doctors step out of a disinfection chamber after cleaning their protective suits. | (REUTERS/Thomas Peter)