Saturday, October 25, 2014

Ebola at Dallas

First US Ebola infection occurred in Dallas, Nina Pham, a nurse who helped to treat the west African patient Thomas Eric Duncan, was the victim. Then a scare, a deputy sheriff from the area, was suspected of Ebola symptom. Shortly after a second nurse , Amber Vinson, was diagnosed with Ebola disease! The anxiety at DFW area about Ebola infection skyrocketed. Good news is that both nurses were cured of Ebola this week. DFW area calms down. 

It is NYC's turn for Ebola anxiety.

Despite the widely held believe that "Ebola is spread through direct contact with body fluids of a sick person; the remains of someone who has died of Ebola; or from exposure to objects such as needles that have been contaminated. Ebola is not spread through the air or by water, or generally in food. It's only contagious if the infected individual is experiencing active symptoms and by direct contact as described above.", we still don't know how the two nurses got infected under protections.

What worried me the most at the beginning was the fact that people with Ebola risks did not observe recommended or mandatory quarantine. 

The Dallas nurse, Amber Vinson traveled during her quarantine period, travelling by air from DFW to Cleveland and back. She had low fever on the way back. 

Nancy Snyderman NBC news chief medical editor, whose cameraman was infected with Ebola during their trip to West Africa. Snyderman and her whole team were under mandatory quarantine upon return to US. She went out to a restaurant before quarantine was over. 

Craig Spencer, a NY physician, who returned from West Africa, had high risk of Ebola, was not allowed to go back to work, and was under self monitoring,  roamed around NY via subway, went to bowling. He was diagnosed of Ebola disease on Thursday!

My second worry was that government/medical authority was too lenient in enforcing quarantine, some officials showed their "compassion" at wrong time, wrong place on a wrong subject

For nurse Vinson, CDC cleared her travel despite the risk, and then made excuses that she was not symptomatic and downplayed the risk she had for general public. Nina Pham's dog was initially not isolated because some official wanted to show compassion, leading higher public anxiety and greater risk to general public in local area.

Nancy Synerman, a MD herself, half halfheartedly apologized for her violation of quarantine, claiming she knew she posed no risk. 

Spencer, despite his irresponsible behavior, was hailed by some media outlet as a great humanitarian. 

Gradually, DFW area authority, CDC, and now New York State enforce quarantine more forcefully.  I would say that Dallas county, city officials acted quickly, corrected mistakes promptly. The end result is that Ebola infections in DFW is limited to the two nurses (who are free of Ebola now) so far, public mood are calm now about Ebola.

With education on prevention, early detection of Ebola symptom, quick isolation and treatment, and strict quarantine enforcement, the Ebola disease should be contained in US.


1) With the coming flu season, we will have some confusions and more anxiety - since Ebola symptoms are very similar to flu with fever, especially stomach flu with fever. 

2) Resource: WHO website

1 comment:

  1. The biggest problem is that even the medical professionals do not follow the procedures including quarantine. They are so confident that protection gears can protect them.