How Hospital Ships Could Help The International Ebola Outbreak

October 17, 2014 12:12 PM

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The Ebola outbreak has become an international crisis that has caused raised security at airports, an influx of pop-up hospitals in Liberia and other Ebola hotspots, and what president Obama calls "the largest international response in the history of the CDC." While the CDC has some tools at its disposal, none is as impactful as the two held by the U.S. Navy -- the USNS Mercy and USNS Comfort. Just as aircraft carriers can deliver air superiority to anywhere in the world, hospital ships offer sophisticated medical facilities to underdeveloped areas. Each ship has 1,000 beds and boasts modern labs and scanning technology. They are designed to bring surgical expertise and modern medical tools to battlefields and disaster zones. But are they effective in treating infectious disease?

Hospital ships came of age in the 17th century. Although their first purpose was to treat battlefield injuries of troops deployed to foreign shores, they soon got wrapped up in homeland security fights against infectious disease. Medical ships coming to England had to stay in a creek near London, a ...

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