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Friday, October 3, 2014

Ebola in the US

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia
I first heard of Ebola when reading Tom Clancy's "Executive Orders" back in the 90's. It was such a hideous disease, and since I'd never heard of it, I looked it up to see if it was real or if it was something the author made up ... and was sickened to discover it was real. Ever since then, when I hear of an outbreak, I pay attention. Ebola is a terribly wicked, cruel disease with a dismal survival rate.

I'm sure everyone has heard that a man who traveled from Ebola-plagued Liberia to Dallas, Texas has been diagnosed with Ebola. All the news shows are airing pieces with doctors and representatives from the CDC and the government, trying to calm our fears and reassure us that we are safe.

One of the news anchors asked a representative from the CDC why people from countries with an Ebola epidemic were allowed to to enter the United States. The CDC rep said that "Ebola can only be spread through direct contact with bodily fluids from an infected person. They are contagious only after showing symptoms, and the people who come to the United States from those countries are questioned and have had their temperature taken multiple times before they are allowed to board a plane, so we have no reason to worry. We have procedures in place to prevent infected individuals from boarding airplanes."


How can they say the procedures they have in place to prevent this are effective when the exact scenario they say could never happen has just happened? Despite all their "checks", a man with Ebola lied about his exposure to the disease, boarded a plane, and landed in the United States. Four days later he began to show symptoms. He waited two days before going to the emergency room, where he was given antibiotics and sent home. He returned to the hospital via ambulance two days after that, much sicker, and this time someone put two and two together ... he's from Liberia, he's running a fever, he's vomiting and extremely sick ... so they (finally) isolated him and tested him for Ebola, for which he tested positive. Even more chilling is that he walked around contagious for four days. At this point, there is no way of knowing how many people were exposed to Ebola. They can speculate, but they don't really know.

This man helped carry his landlord's daughter to a hospital, where she died of Ebola. The landlord's son and two neighbors, who had contact with this woman, also died of Ebola. This man recently quit his job in Liberia and decided to come to the United States. His application for a visa was approved. He knew he had been exposed to Ebola, and yet he lied about it when asked, and was allowed to board the plane.
Obviously, the checks they have in place to prevent this are not enough.

The CDC says they can contain this and that the US population is not in any danger. I can't help but wonder ... if the CDC can contain this, then why is it still spreading?

Maybe we should put a moratorium on anyone whose passport indicates they have been to a region battling this disease. It doesn't take a leap of faith to assume someone could purposely infect themselves and come here with the intention of bringing this epidemic to the United States.

I'm not sure why the government and the CDC are acting like this is no big deal and that we shouldn't be alarmed. It is a big deal and we would be foolish not to be alarmed! I hope that this thing doesn't get out of control and cause future generations to judge us harshly for the actions ... or inaction ... of the government regarding this threat. Future generations will have enough to be upset with us about ... I just hope an Ebola epidemic in the United States isn't one of them.

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