The Ebola Outbreak of 2014, Part 3

As for the rest of the world…

The World Health Organization now states that Ebola is “slowing” in Liberia, but read the caveat included here:

“Several times throughout this outbreak, including in Liberia, officials have thought the disease’s spread was slowing, only to surge again later. They have often blamed those false lulls on cases being hidden because people were too afraid to seek treatment, wanted to bury their relatives themselves or simply weren’t in contact with authorities.” (“WHO: Ebola Epidemic in Liberia ‘May’ Be Slowing, But Crisis Far From Over”, NBC News website, 10/29/2014)

Still think people are going to self-report?

Nigeria, thankfully, remains Ebola-free.  Senegal too (“WHO Congratulates Senegal on Ending Ebola Transmission”. World Health Organization website, 10/17/2014).

Finally, more general info…

The disease apparently is very contagious once someone displays symptoms.  That’s because, according to the CDC, virus RNA increases quite a bit during the acute phase (“Review of Human-To-Human Transmission of Ebola Virus”, CDC website, 10/29/2014).

I say, “very”, and not “only”, because according to this article I just cited, the CDC states

“The risk of EVD transmission from direct skin contact with an EVD patient is lower than the risk from exposure to blood or body fluids and may be more likely in severe illness (when the Ebola virus RNA levels are highest).”

It goes on to report that

“Indirect exposure to blood and body fluids (via fomites) has also been implicated in EVD transmission but is not common. In the 2000 – 2001 Ebola outbreak in Gulu, Uganda, one EVD patient had no direct exposure to another known EVD patient; this patient slept with a blanket that had been used by another patient who died of EVD.”  (Ibid)

So the risk is minimal,  but it is there, and I think this is what worries a lot of Americans.

The virus has also been found up to 3 months in semen (“Q&As on Transmission”, Question #6, CDC website, 10/23/2014), and in dead bodies (“Guidance For Safe Handling of Human Remains of Ebola Patients in U.S. Hospitals and Mortuaries”, CDC website, 10/26/2014).

In addition to all this confusing and sometimes conflicting information, there are articles published by ‘reputable’ sources such as CNN (“Ebola in the Air? A Nightmare That Could Happen”, 10/06/2014) that indicate Ebola could become an airborne virus by mutation.  In the same article, other experts dispute that.

I hope these U.S. cases are all one-offs.

But one thing bothers me: Why are some healthcare workers (doctors and nurses, apparently) taking such a cavalier approach to their exposure, or, as in one case, becoming indignant because she didn’t think she should be in quarantine after coming back to the U.S. from caring for Ebola patients (N.J. nurse who threatened to sue)?

If it were you, wouldn’t you want to quarantine yourself for the requisite 3 weeks, if for no other reason than to protect your own family and friends?

Apparently the N.J. nurse hadn’t contracted Ebola – that’s terrific news.

But the doctor from N.Y. had.  Why didn’t he have the common sense (or decency, some might say) to either quarantine himself in his apartment, or at least limit his exposure to others for a 3 week period?

If I was his fiancee, I’d be pissed (she’s now in quarantine herself).

These healthcare professionals should, more so than anyone, know how deadly Ebola is.  Are they just in denial?  What in hell is wrong with them?

And the various talking heads keep stating how, since it’s not airborne, people shouldn’t be so concerned about it – while on the same news program there are often pictures of people in hazmat outfits ‘decontaminating’ patients’ apartments…

You’ve got people wanting to ban all travel from west Africa, and others stating this will just cause people to enter the country by going through European countries to come here…

You’ve got people stating we shouldn’t send any more Americans to help fight Ebola in Africa, and others stating we should not only do that but not quarantine them when they come back…

You’ve got the U.S. Army enforcing a quarantine for personnel serving in Ebola-infected areas (“Hagel Announces Mandatory Ebola Quarantine”, CNN News website, 10/29/2014), and our president stating “that the United States was not invulnerable to the disease but cautioned against discouraging civilian volunteers with overly restrictive measures upon their return home. ‘We can’t hermetically seal ourselves off,’ he declared” (“Pentagon Orders 21-Day Ebola Quarantine for Troops”, ABC News website, 10/29/2014). The president also said

“Like our military men and women deploying to West Africa, they do this for no other reason than their own sense of duty, their sense of purpose, their sense of serving a cause greater than themselves,” he said. “And we need to call them what they are, which is American heroes. They deserve our gratitude, and they deserve to be treated with dignity and with respect.” (Ibid)

I do not mean to be disrespectful, but (in some cases) we might need to call them what they are – contagious.

Our troops are over in Africa building hospitals etc, so why is it somehow not disrespecfuI or undignified to quarantine them?

I cannot understand why a nurse or doctor would object to this safety measure.

More on this next week…

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