Ebola Case Found in Texas

I’m not a doctor or a public health administrator, but I could play one better than that guy did on TV.  I’m talking about Dr. Thomas Frieden from the CDC.

So Ebola has come to America.  I don’t think any of us is really that surprised.  According to Dr. Frieden, the patient (let’s call him “Patient Zero”) left Liberia on Sept 19, arrived in the U.S. on September 20, and was not symptomatic upon either exiting Liberia or entering the U.S.  Patient Zero’s  first symptoms appeared on September 24, and on the 26th, he sought care.  On the 28th he was admitted to a hospital in Texas, where he was isolated.

I sure hope Patient Zero was home in bed alone from the 24th until the 28th and had no human contact whatsoever, but I’m not holding my breath.

Dr. Frieden said that the first priority is caring for the patient, then identifying all of the people with whom he might have had contact while he “could have been” infectious, and then contacting and monitoring all of those people for 21 days after the exposure event.

At this point, I don’t know about you, but I’m not feeling it.  I just don’t like the way it sounds.  How can they find all the people Patient Zero came into contact with and monitor them...and then everyone they came in contact with, and then everyone they came in contact with?  It multiplies like a Breck commercial from the '70s. 

And shouldn’t they be quarantined in case they have it, so they don’t expose others to it?  And then we have to do that Breck shampoo thing again?

Not only that, but can Patient Zero really remember everyone?  All the people in the grocery store or the folks he passed on the street?  Granted, it isn’t airborne yet, but they still have to monitor every contact.  I have pretty decent recall and a dull life, but even I would struggle with that one.

Still, as if reading my mind, Dr. Frieden goes on to offer these comforting words: “The bottom line is, I have no doubt that we will control this importation or this case of Ebola so that it does not spread widely in this country.”

Now I’m really squirming.  Is that supposed to make any of us feel better?  Pay careful attention to the word that follows “spread.”  Widely.

I guess now that Ebola’s out of the bag, they expect it to spread.  Their job will be to prevent it from spreading widely, whatever that means.  One thing I know for sure: some of us will be exposed.

One more thing, as if this already wasn’t enough.  As I said, I’m not a public health official or a medical anything, but if there is a 21-day incubation period, then why is anyone from any of the countries that have been riddled with the disease allowed on a plane unless they have been in quarantine for those 21 days – neither exposing anyone else to Ebola if they have it or being exposed to anyone in the general public who has contracted it?  Inquiring minds want to know. 

Is it too much to ask?  Is the freedom to travel so compelling that it overrides our desire to protect ourselves?

In the meantime, I’m getting jazzed for another season of Walking Dead...and hoping it remains just a TV show.

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