Sam Redman's Musings

Random thoughts on a variety of subjects

Ebola and the Need for Panic

By Sam Redman

Truly there is no need for the public to panic.

The Dallas mistakes have brought about appropriate changes in hospital procedure. We now know how and why the two Ebola inflicted nurses contracted the disease. It has been reported that the two nurses had no protective garments or special “hazmat” gear for the first two days of the hospital stay of the now deceased victim, Thomas Duncan, while he was vomiting and suffering from explosive diarrhea. In addition, at no time during Duncan’s entire isolation did any of the care personnel have appropriate protective gear. So it is now understood how they were exposed to the virus. Because of what was learned, those circumstances won’t occur again at any American hospital.

None of the people sharing the apartment where Duncan first experienced those symptoms has contracted Ebola, because they followed tighter procedures than the nurses; not touching the victim and wiping themselves and apartment furniture and other objects with chlorine solution. That procedural knowledge was gained from Duncan’s step-daughter’s experience as a nurse in a nursing home for the elderly, where dealing with infectious diseases is commonplace.

We have no indications that anyone can contract the illness except under conditions similar to what those two nurses experienced during Duncan’s first two days of hospitalization.

What has been learned means that most likely that hospital situation will never occur again. Contact tracing and symptom monitoring works. Hospitals all over the nation will be ready for anyone presenting symptoms. America is now safe. It is possible that some additional travel and border restrictions to limit infected persons from entering the country from countries where the disease is rampant may eventually need to be implemented. But, with 150 people daily entering from those countries we have no indication that such action (other than current body temperature checking) is needed now. We can be assured that if we start seeing multiple other Ebola patients entering the country, necessary quarantine steps will be promptly taken. Other developed countries will follow suit with steps taken in America.

Second and third world countries may indeed be devastated until the Zmapp and other experimental treatments are finished. Once mass production of the new treatments is in full production with millions of doses on hand, a capacity probably achievable within the next six months, those other countries will be able to get the epidemic under control.

While the new treatments are being readied, America and other developed nations still need to focus efforts to provide aid to the African countries experiencing the outbreaks, because the spread can be controlled with appropriate procedures and facilities.

However, America does have need for concern about another viral epidemic; influenza. This is an ongoing deadly airborne disease, spread by merely breathing in the vicinity of those who sneeze or cough or even from opening a door in a public place which a sick person has touched. The flu kills 30,000 people annually in America nationwide, a disease for which a yearly modified vaccine is available. While this situation still does not warrant panic, it certainly deserves a heightened public awareness and an increased personal sense of urgency. Although it has been well publicized that those thousands of people die annually from the influenza virus, millions in this country fail to get their annual flu vaccinations, available at every physicians office, neighborhood urgent care locations and chain pharmacies everywhere.

Maybe a little panic might be justified.

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This entry was posted on October 16, 2014 by .

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