Ebola: Here Is Why We Should Be Worried But Not Panicked

Update: The Dallas medical center now says the computer system was not at fault for the Ebola patient being returned to his home for two days. It did not give the actual reason. I still bellieve that the computers need to be emegency tested.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) told us that Ebola is very difficult to catch. They said that the person would have to be very sick to be contagious, and that person would have to have body fluids such as vomit, diarrhea and spittle. Then that body fluid would have to travel all the way to an open wound, or our eyes or mouth.

I imagined myself trapped between an airplane window and a guy with Ebola. I turned my head at just the wrong moment, and his Ebola germs leaped out of his mouth and into my eye. Pretty ridiculous. I felt better. And that was the idea. But just in case I might panic and jump out of the plane, the authorities told us Ebola is just something that happens in poor countries with no healthcare system, not enough doctors and primitive conditions. But then someone asked,

“So how did the guy get Ebola when he just lifted the sick woman’s legs?”

Yeah, how did that happen? Oh that. The authorities tell us that the woman was very sick and had a temperature. And that caused her to perspire. And perspiration is a body fluid. Later someone wormed it out of the CDC that sneezing counts as “body fluids, too. Now why didn’t they tell us that in the beginning?

Infection control specialist Sean Kaufman is president of Behavioral-Based Improvement Solutions. It is a biosafety company out of Atlanta, and he talks about the fever-screening tools used at airports to weed out those who might have Ebola. He says,

“The fever-screening instruments run low and aren’t that accurate…If it will get them on a plane so they can come to the United States and get effective treatment after they’re exposed to Ebola, wouldn’t you do that to save your life? At Heathrow there were no questions about where I had come from. I offered the information to the official in Atlanta, and he said, ‘Thank you. Be safe.’”

CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden warned that if we isolated a country with the Ebola raging, it would make the Ebola outbreak harder to contain. But I don’t quite get their logic. They don’t want to “isolate” a country, but they do want to isolate the sick patients. Hmmm. I would think isolating a country would contain the virus, just like it contains a sick patient’s germs. And the two cases in the U.S. so far have come via airplanes, along with their germs. Yet the head of the CDC says,

“The approach of isolating a country is going to make it harder to get help into that country.”

Oh come on. Hasn’t the CDC ever heard of private planes and “exceptions to the rule?” Let’s use some common sense. Not-so-on-top-of-it Ebola emergency people knew the first guy  was in a Dallas hospital. Yet they left his dirty linens and clothing in apartment with children who naturally turned around and went to school. Five children going to four different schools. Finally a hazmat crew came and ripped up the carpet, got the clothes, etc. Oh yeah after emergency people isolated the family, someone finally remembered the family might need food. They did.

Just one more thing. The Dallas guy went to the hospital when he got sick and told the nurse he might have Ebola. Unfortunately there was glitch in the software that failed to notify the doctors who saw him. So they sent him home. Two days later a much sicker Dallas man had a family member call up CDC and beg them to help him. That got the man into the hospital. I hope every hospital is testing its computer system.

This past week a man invaded the White House. We only know about a shaky Secret Service, because there was an incident. And people who work at Secret Service remember what it used to be like and risked their careers to whistleblow to Congress. The CDC had an incident this summer. They found some deadly vials “in an unused portion of a storage room.” Maybe someone needs to hold somebody’s feet to the fire about Ebola. And that somebody would be us calling our representatives in the U.S. House.

For some things there’s just no excuse.


Author: Gloria Christie is the editor of Gloria Christie Reports. This is a common sense column about change. Change in liberal politics. Change in healthcare. Change in business. Change in the economy. Change in technology. Christie wrote political articles for Addictinginfo.org. She wrote a column on community building for the Kansas City Star, a column on Where High Technology Meets Politics for the IDG-Connect Blog in London and one about life in the late ’50’s/early ’60’s for The Best Times, a  Kansas City Metro publication. She has a total readership of over 5 million. Christie holds an MS in radio-TV-film and an MPA in business/government relations. She is also a systemic problems consulting expert for Fortune 100 and 500 businesses both here and off-shore. And she invented and implemented the first computerized patient chart. You can follow her on Facebook at Gloria Christie Reports and on Twitter.