Is the CDC Playing Immigration Politics with Ebola?

Astoundingly, CDC Ebola screening/isolation standards issued following the Duncan Dallas Ebola case still do not properly contend with cases like Duncan’s -- and who knows how many of those there now are in America?

The CDC’s new policy guidelines will be documented shortly. 

First, though, let’s quickly discuss the problem Duncan’s case presented, and cases like his will continue to present. During his first visit to the Emergency Room of Texas Presbyterian, Duncan’s condition was such that he “presented with low-grade fever and abdominal pain. His condition did not warrant admission. He also was not exhibiting symptoms specific to Ebola.” Accordingly, Texas Presbyterian sent Duncan home with antibiotics.

When the hospital sent the Ebola-infected Duncan home, it did so because it chose to comply with CDC policy guidelines.  Those guidelines were such that even patients who had “traveled to Africa” and who had abdominal pain accompanied with fevers less than 101.5 degrees (i.e., “low-grade” fevers) were to be considered, for purposes of Ebola isolation, essentially “asymptomatic.”

Now then: have you noticed that the MSM has repeatedly characterized Duncan’s case, and cases such as Duncan’s in America, as involving merely “travel to Africa”?  One wonders why that is, especially when Duncan traveled from Africa -- from Monrovia, Liberia, in fact.  In addition, Duncan is a Liberian national.  Moreover, we are now told that Duncan “had just moved to Dallas from West Africa” -- which sounds an awful lot like Duncan is an immigrant.

When Texas Presbyterian released Duncan, it did so without taking into account that Duncan, far from having merely “traveled to Africa” was also a Liberian National from the Monrovian hot zone (with all of the friendship and social networks -- and therefore risk for Ebola contraction -- that implies).  Who is more likely to have had greater exposure to Ebola: persons such as Duncan, or persons who are random travelers “to” Africa?  The answer to that question is perfectly obvious. 

The hospital says Duncan’s “travel history” was not “fully communicated.”  There are many reasons strongly to doubt this, but in the final analysis at this point it does not matter.  What matters now is that going forward, Obama’s CDC has still not offered policy guidance to hospitals along these lines: “when you (the hospital) encounter people (like Duncan) who have fevers less than 101.5 degrees, and abdominal pain, you should ascertain not just whether they have “traveled to” “Africa,” but whether they are also nationals who have lived in Ebola hot zones. Probabilistically, abdominal pains and low-grade fevers mean very different things if you’re talking about nationals from hot zones as opposed to random travelers to affected countries. 

To be sure, compelling reasons can be given as to why having simply having “traveled to” an affected country, plus a low-grade fever plus abdominal pain, should lead to isolation.  But if the CDC is not going to tell hospitals to do that, it should at least tell hospitals that a low-grade fever plus abdominal pain requires isolation if the patient is a recently arrived hot zone national

As crazy as it is to continue letting mere “travelers to” affected countries with abdominal pains and low-grade fevers go, it is utterly insane to not isolate newly arrived hot zone nationals who exhibit those symptoms -- the future Duncans of America. 

And yet, unbelievably, the CDC still does not intend to isolate future Duncans (see for yourself by clicking here and here -- and remember that these are policy guidelines issued after the Duncan case).

Is it wholly unreasonable to suppose that the CDC is avoiding emphasis on the nationality of hot zone arrivals because it doesn’t want to draw attention to the connection of Ebola with immigration?  If that is what they are doing, here is what Obama and RINOS are saying to America: immigration reform is more important than containing Ebola.  These considerations perhaps give new meaning to Obama’s statement on October 2 that “no force on earth” can stop immigration reform.  “No force on earth” indeed -- not even Ebola.

Dr. Jason Kissner is associate professor of criminology at California State University, Fresno.  You can reach him at