Late Wednesday afternoon, the Centers for Disease Control went into emergency mode — declaring a Level 1 activation of its Emergency Operations Center, it’s most serious posture in a public health emergency.
— Dr. Sanjay Gupta (@drsanjaygupta) August 6, 2014
— Dr. Tom Frieden (@DrFriedenCDC) August 6, 2014
The last time the CDC declared a “Level 1” event was during the H1N1 flu outbreak in Asia in 2009.
Meanwhile the World Health Organization began a two-day emergency meeting on Wednesday to discuss the Ebola outbreak.
The closed-door session is tasked with ruling whether the outbreak constitutes what is known in WHO-speak as a “public health emergency of international concern”.
Taking the form of a telephone conference between senior WHO officials, representatives of affected countries, and experts from around the globe, the meeting is not expected to made its decision public until Friday.
To date, the WHO has not issued global-level recommendations – such as travel and trade restrictions – related to the outbreak which began in Guinea and has spread to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.
But the scale of concern is underlined by the WHO emergency session itself – such consultations are relatively rare.
The disease seems to have spread out of Western Africa with patients now being treated in the United States and Spain and two more Ebola deaths being reported in Nigeria and Saudi Arabia.
But is all of this Ebola government and media attention just creating undue public panic and hysteria? After all, less than 1,000 people worldwide have died in the current outbreak while over 600,000 Americans die each year from heart disease.
FOX News’ Dr. Manny Alvarez is arguing that the CDC itself is stoking unnecessary panic.
[W]hen the CDC, which has been at the epicenter of the Ebola outbreak since their help in orchestrating the repatriation of two American aid workers stricken with the virus, said Tuesday that a half dozen additional patients were being tested for possible infections in the U.S. — I found it very upsetting and surprising that this information was being released with such late notice. The CDC gave out just enough information to the media to let the press run with it but the health protection agency left the American public in fear.
From a scientific point of view, many of my colleagues and I have been reporting that the possibility of a major Ebola outbreak is very unlikely in the U.S. I keep reiterating how important it was for us to bring the two American Ebola patients to the U.S. for treatment. Not only is it the right thing to do, but exposure to experimental drugs will also give scientists important clinical information that could lead to a cure.
This is why it’s more important than ever to make as much information about screening and outcomes as we can available to the American public.
Fear of the unknown is what creates a culture of fear and prejudice surrounding a health crisis – much like outbreaks of other diseases we’ve seen in countries around the world.
It would be doing the medical community, who are working so diligently to find a solution — as well as the world at large — a disservice to let the same sort of ignorance and misinformation cloud the Ebola crisis.
Dr. Alvarez points out that the CDC’s selective information dumps mirrors how the rest of the Obama Administration has been less than transparent. As is the case with most of nature, something always fills a vacuum.
In the case of a public health threat, lack of information is leading to conspiracy theories and an inability of the American public to truly grasp what is important news and what is conjecture.DONATE
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