Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Updates on Ebola in the United States


The fear of Ebola has been spreading faster than the virus itself in the United States, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have the potential to become a real national security threat. So how can the US contain the spread of Ebola? America’s largest union of nurses certainly doesn’t feel prepared to save anyone. The union claims that there have been lapses in quarantine procedures that may allow more people (like the man in Dallas) to become sick. It’s also important for hospitals to keep the nurses safe. Health care workers need to wear protective gear.
            How about the spread of sick people from one city to another, or about detecting sick people entering the US? Recently, one passenger tested positive for Ebola after flying infected but without symptoms. Currently, the CDC believes that Ebola is only spread through direct contact with symptomatic individuals (http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/transmission/).
            On the subject of airports, the SF Gate just published an article about San Francisco International Airport’s (SFO) preparations for the arrival of Ebola in California, which state health officials claim “would not be unusual.” The airports of SFO, and LAX already have CDC-certified quarantine centers that could be used in the case of the arrival of an Ebola patient. SFO has launched an “enhanced screening” protocol that is a two-step process. CDC and border control officials question passengers about where they’ve traveled, and whether they might have been exposed to the virus; the officials take passengers into another room if they have concerns, and then give the passengers information about signs and symptoms, as well as instructions for how to get urgent care if they become ill. President Obama stated that he wants a “SWAT team from the CDC” to respond to Ebola cases so that they can contain them.
            How should we be dealing with Ebola cases? Tighter security on planes? Ban travel to/from Ebola-stricken countries? More quarantine facilities? What will it take to ensure everyone’s safety?




--Joe Getsy

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