It Is Here and Likely Here To Stay
Headlines: “Health officials on Tuesday announced the first case of Ebola diagnosed in the United States. A man is now isolated in the intensive care unit at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas Texas” (MARCHIONE, 2014).
Now that it is here, however officials state, “no doubt… we will stop it here”. Seems we had heard this same statement about stopping it in Africa. It is accelerating at a rapid pace instead of being contained in Africa (Lupkin, 2014).
The number infected according to most experts is under reported so the actual number of infections is considerably higher than what is being officially reported. Many people in the countries where the outbreaks are occurring have a mistrust of their government, and doctors, so many are simply not coming forward to seek care. Additionally, in some if not many cases when they do seek care in some areas they are turned away because of a lack of medical staffing and other means of treating the patients.
Anyone paying attention would have realized it was just a matter of time before it did arrive in the United States. What is disturbing is the high percentage of health care workers in Africa being infected. They supposedly have the training, equipment and support structure to prevent infection, and yet they are still contracting the disease. This does not bode well for the average person that does not have the training, support structure or “medical gear” needed.
Even more alarming is the fact that the individual in Dallas apparently went to the hospital showing symptoms of Ebola on Friday, and was sent home only to return Sunday September 28 2014 by ambulance when the disease had worsened. He was admitted and isolated on Sunday.
Literally, nothing is known of this person other than the fact the patient is a male. Privacy for the patient is preventing the hospital from revealing the name, age, and nationality to the public at large. This means that those that may have had contact with the patient will not be aware of it. What restaurants he ate at, did he attend any churches, public gatherings, and where did he stay at are all questions many people want answers too so they can determine their own risk.
Obviously, the question is why he was not admitted on Friday, and whom did he have contact with at the hospital once he showed up with symptoms on Friday. They did not realize he had Ebola because they did not test for it on Friday. This means that any health care workers that might be infected could in turn possibly pass it to other patients, to their own families and to their friends.
The workers treated other patients for two days before they realized that they might have been exposed to the virus. The patients of course would have had contact with others as well. The number of contacts originating from just one person infected entering a hospital could be in the hundreds if not thousands.
Will the health care workers be put into isolation for 21 days? The health care system in this country will collapse if every nurse, doctor or paramedic has to be quarantined for 21 days when it is suspected or known there has been contact with an infected person. What about all those in the hospital waiting room what is their risk?
The experts tell us that the disease is not communicable until symptoms appear, but no one should stake their life on this. Remember he did have symptoms on Friday when he went to the hospital, but he was sent home with antibiotics.
Did the patient himself not stop and think, “Hey I was in Liberia, maybe I have Ebola because it is out of control there”. What were the medical professionals thinking when he walked in with symptoms. Did they not initially ask his travel itinerary, did he refuse to answer, did they not inquire of his nationality, and if they did, did he lie or refuse to answer.
What does it tell us if the hospital did receive the correct answers, the truth in other words, and they still sent him home? The public does not know the answers yet, so this is all conjecture, but they are reasonable questions that need to be answered.
It is troubling, how a person with Ebola is sent home with antibiotics only to be rushed back two days later in an ambulance. Do you really think the health care system in this country is ready for Ebola?
It is here and it has to be dealt with. How does it affect you however, is the big question? Your risk of contracting the virus is low, but not impossible. You do have to take precautions especially if you live in the community in and around Dallas or any community where there is a known or suspected risk. You simply do not know at this point whom the patient may have had contact with.
He was showing symptoms for days and was presumably in public during this time. Public restrooms, apartment buildings, restaurants, malls, grocery stores and the lists are endless of the places he could have been in contact with the public.
Basic precautions include washing/sanitizing your hands after touching any surface while out in public. Carry hand sanitizer with you wherever you go, and do not mingle in crowds or use public restrooms unless you absolutely have to.
Do not let children use the restrooms by themselves to prevent them from touching all the surfaces like children are apt to do, and to make sure they wash their hands thoroughly before they leave. Then after touching the restroom door handles as they exit you may want to consider using sanitizer on their hands as well.
You may want to curtail or stop having your children sleep over at others’ homes and not let sleepovers occur at your home. Draconian maybe, but you simply have to do what you have to do to protect everyone in your family.
Do not get engrossed with all of the conspiracy theories and focus on the reality. The virus is here, and how do you protect yourself. You can expect a slow dribble of information from the government. They like to dole out information in small doses so people have time to absorb the bad news. Expect this and do your own research so you can be ahead of the curve.
You may have to change the way you live for awhile. Concerts and malls may have to wait. You can expect quarantines and you have to be prepared for them. Your children may not be able to go to school and certain businesses may shut down for short or even for extended periods. Certain business may shut down for a few days to decontaminate their business if they suspect an infected person visited their establishment. Expect to see some stores closed when you try to go shopping.
You may be required to stay in your home or community for short or extended periods. You need enough emergency supplies on hand to see you through this period. Personal hygiene is paramount in combating the spread of the deadly virus, so make sure you have the essentials on hand, such as bar soap, paper towels, alcohol wipes or liquid, and hand sanitizer.
The bar/social scene may become a death scene for some, so think about this as you plan a night out on the town, especially in places where you would expect international travelers, Bars, hotels and restaurants near major airports will have travelers in them from all over the world.
You can only react to the information on hand and react you must, but stay calm and think your way through the problem. Paying attention to the information being put out is important.
Lupkin, S. (2014, September 30th). Retrieved 2014, from http://abcnews.go.com/Health/ebola-case-us-cdc-vows-stop/story?id=25873850
MARCHIONE, M. (2014). Retrieved 2014, from http://news.yahoo.com/us-ebola-case-5-things-know-232923318.html