NASHVILLE, Tenn.—Firestone Liberia Inc. is making progress in its efforts to contain the spread of the Ebola virus at its Liberian plantation, according to reports from parent company Bridgestone Americas Inc. and the Centers for Disease Control.
Nevertheless, 56 of the 78 people so far on the Firestone plantation who have contracted the Ebola virus have died, according to the Bridgestone document.
Because Firestone began its response to the Ebola outbreak in March 2014, operations at the plantation have been normal since that time, according to a Bridgestone spokesman.
“Had Firestone not taken swift action and enacted the appropriate protocols, our operation could have been severely impacted,” the spokesman said.
The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare of Liberia first contacted Firestone Liberia on March 30, 2014 about an Ebola victim inside the plantation, according to the CDC document issued Oct. 24.
Firestone has about 8,500 employees on its Liberian plantation, the CDC said. Including dependents of those employees and others living in the vicinity, there are nearly 80,000 people living within the plantation's borders, according to the Ebola response update Bridgestone issued Oct. 31.
To prevent a large outbreak, the CDC said, Firestone responded by:
• Establishing an incident management system;
• Instituting procedures for the early recognition and isolation of Ebola patients;
• Enforcing adherence to standard Ebola infection control guidelines; and
• Providing different levels of management for patients depending on exposure, including options for voluntary home quarantine or quarantine in dedicated facilities.
“In addition, Firestone created multidisciplinary teams to oversee the outbreak response, address case detection, manage cases in a dedicated unit and reintegrate convalescent patients into the community,” the CDC said.
Firestone Liberia is educating its workers and their families to safeguard themselves against Ebola infection, and also working with others in the educational effort, Bridgestone said.
“We also are caring for our workers and their families, and the experience we have acquired has been shared and used in other parts of Liberia,” the company said.
Firestone is joining with the CDC and the U.S. Embassy in Liberia to offer its expertise in controlling the virus, the company said.
It also is working through MOSHW through Liberia's county healthcare system to offer critical support in the fight against Ebola; conducting daily monitoring of suspected Ebola cases through mobile medical teams; and sponsoring programs for Ebola victims to be reintegrated into their communities, it said.
Currently, only two patients are in the plantation's Ebola treatment unit, Bridgestone said.
Earlier this year, Firestone Liberia said it would change its production mix at the plantation from a mix of liquid latex and block rubber to all block rubber.
The Ebola epidemic has had no effect on these plans, which will be completed by the end of the year, Bridgestone said.