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Mistakes Are Contagious: Ebola Update

Mistakes Are Contagious: Ebola Update

How the Federal Government, CDC, Local Public Health Agencies and Exposed Personnel Might Be Allowing the Spread of Ebola

ebolas cases in united states

Ebola Patient in United States

“Patient Zero,” Thomas Duncan tests positive for Ebola after making a flight from Liberia to Brussels to Washington DC and finally Dallas. He is in full blown ebola infection at the hospital and exposes health care workers to the disease. We are told the personnel were wearing protective gear. We now know they had little to no training on how to deal with a contagion of this magnitude and their protective gear was not up to proper safety standards.

Care Worker Infected

“Patient One”, nurse, Nina Pham, who had direct patient contact with Duncan who is at home under “isolation orders” taking her temperature twice a day, detects a fever and admits herself to the hospital. She is immediately placed in quarantine, tests positive and begins ebola treatments. Hospital officials now reveal that Duncan was out in the open with other patients on his second visit and his blood work was handled in the same manner any other patient’s labs would be handled potentially infecting lab techs and other personnel and by extension, other patients.

Voluntary Isolation

Other health care workers are under the same orders; basically “stay at home and monitor body temperature.” No security, no guards or monitors are put in place to make sure the health care workers stay at home.

We learn now, a second health care worker at Texas Presbyterian, “Patient Two”, Amber Vinson was exposed by Duncan and has tested positive for the ebola virus. Worse, she flew on a Frontier Airlines flight from Cleveland to Dallas just one day prior to becoming symptomatic. So, a nurse potentially exposed to ebola was told to stay in place and monitor herself, yet she ends up in Cleveland and then flies back to Dallas? Who did she contact in Cleveland? Are they in isolation now?

The relatives and friends of Duncan, were also under “stay at home” isolation orders and we learn that they too decided to go out in public because they felt too cooped up to stay in the apartment that still contained Duncan’s soiled and contaminated clothes, linens, etc. Once authorities realized they had been out, they then put in place armed guards to keep them in until more isolated quarters could be found.

NBC cameraman, Ashoka Mukpo was infected as he documented ebola in Liberia. Accompanying him were other NBC news personnel including Dr. Nancy Snyderman, NBC News’ chief medical editor. These people were told to isolate themselves once they got back home. Dr. Snyderman was caught breaking the “voluntary” isolation order and had a friend or colleague (also under isolation orders) run into a restaurant to pick up a fast-food order in Princeton, New Jersey.

Clearly there is a problem with “voluntary” isolation orders for such a potentially devastating illness. People are too stupid and selfish to maintain isolation. Even a doctor, who should know better, feels she is impervious to this so she decides to go out in public because she had the munchies. These few examples of breaches in isolation could very well spread this disease amongst the population of many states.

What should our containment policy be?

  • Anyone identified as being potentially exposed to an ebola patient should be placed in strict “mandatory” isolation under guard.
  • Immediate cessation of all private flights into the US from afflicted African countries. Aid and military flights would be permitted, but must be properly sanitized.
  • Isolation areas set up outside of hospitals for potential cases of ebola for screening.
  • If high risk of Ebola is suspected, the patient is only admitted to a hospital with sufficient facilities and personnel to properly care for and safe guard against a Level IV bio hazard.
  • Only personnel with updated ebola training and proper protective gear are allowed to be in contact with potential ebola patients

Quelling the Fear or Fueling It?

The CDC researches and creates guidelines, but they have no authority to enforce the guidelines. It is up to each state’s public health agency to enact the guidelines or not. The White House and CDC officials are trying to prevent unnecessary panic. This is needed, but the manner in which they have released contradictory information and false assurances have fueled discontent and is feeding fear.

The truth is, Ebola has arrived through false pretenses when Thomas Duncan lied about being exposed to anyone with Ebola before boarding a plane to America. One slip of paper is the only protection we had against this disease. Approximately 150 people a day continue to arrive from Ebola stricken countries to America (CDC data) with the only protection being a slip of paper, which they can easily lie on and a temperature reading when they arrive. When they arrive they may not have a fever, but the next day or two they could develop one. By the time someone arrives, it is too late.

Ebola is a BioSafety Level IV Organism

Our major hospitals and health care staff are not equipped to handle a Level IV Bio Hazard. There are currently only 14 facilities in the US certified as BioSafety Level IV (BSL-IV). See list here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biosafety_level#List_of_BSL-4_facilitiesv Only these facilities are truly equipped and staffed for such an infection.

Stringent, mandatory guidelines are needed to safeguard our general population from breaches in medical protocol and personal responsibility.

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