One of the most troubling tendencies of the Obama Administration and their minions in the media is to relabel a problem, giving the appearance that solutions are on their way.
Exhibit 1: An act of terror becomes a “man-caused disaster”. Exhibit 2: The prohibition on the term “illegal alien”.
Now, the illness associated with a terrible pathogen is now being reclassified from “Ebola Virus Hemorrhagic Fever” to “Ebola Virus Disease”.
This seems to be an attempt to lull people into a false sense of security, lumping it with other “Virus Diseases” like the flu and the common cold.
I have taught bloodborne pathoghen safety from the early 1990’s, when healthcare, security, and first-aid providers were worried about contracting AIDS. Ebola is rated as a class 4 pathogen because of its fatality rates in humans and the fact that there is no cure or treatment.
It is, and remains, a “hemorrhagic fever”. It did not stop being a Class 4 pathogen once it hit the Dallas hospital. The mechanism of attack, which includes destruction of the endothelial cells that weaken the blood vessels and cause excessive bleeding, has not changed. Once the blood vessels are weakened, a suite of devastating symptoms occurs, as noted in a Business Insider article published in July of this year.
The progression of symptoms is alarming. Initially, the fever, weakness, muscle pain, headache, and sore throat associated with Ebola could be mistaken for a bad flu.
But it is soon followed by vomiting, diarrhea, rash, and impaired organ function. A large proportion of those infected also bleed profusely, both internally and externally. Blood often flows from puncture sites (e.g., where IVs have been inserted) and mucous membranes (e.g., the nose, the eyelids).
Ebola is one of at least 30 viruses known to cause this constellation of symptoms, called viral hemorrhagic fever syndrome.
Note that as of July, Ebola was still being called a hemorrhagic fever.
The best way for our country to prevent any epidemic, including one involving Ebola, is to ensure the public is fully informed. As a professional who specializes in hazardous materials response, the moment my concern transformed to worry was when I saw the image of hired hands power-washing away Ebola-infected vomit:
This situation called for a hazardous materials response: protective suit, double gloves, respiratory protection, containment of the disinfectant spray flow and rinse water, and arrangements to fully decontaminate the personnel responding.
The good news is, the HazMat crews have finally arrived.
A Dallas apartment where the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the United States had stayed is finally getting a thorough cleaning, days after the diagnosis left four people quarantined there with soiled towels and sweat-stained sheets from the Ebola patient.
After some delays, the first of three phases to clean the apartment began Friday afternoon. While the process will take days, at least sheets and towels that Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan used have been removed.
The bad news: The Washington, DC area hospitals are reporting that they were visited by a patient concerned about Ebola exposure:
Two Washington area hospitals said within hours of each other Friday that they had each admitted a patient with symptoms and travel histories associated with Ebola.
A person who had recently traveled to Nigeria came to Howard University Hospital in the District overnight “presenting symptoms that could be associated with Ebola,” spokeswoman Kerry-Ann Hamilton said in a statement.
While the professionals at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are highlighting the fact that “direct contact” with a person’s blood is needed for infection, the fact is that prior to this epidemic, the nature of how Ebola spread was not widely understood. Furthermore, I find it difficult to believe that an NBC cameraman, who now is infected, had any “direct contact” with a carrier as defined by the CDC. The crew would have been informed of the hazards, as they were known at the time.
Neo-neocon brilliantly summarized the communications glitch that prevented the travel records of US Ebola patient zero, Thomas Eric Duncan, to make its way to healthcare personnel. This also underscores the importance being properly informed.
The best response to provide the public the details they need, and to develop serious containment and quarantine plans. Perhaps President Obama can appoint Rudy Giuliani, who didn’t have to relabel anthrax to address a disease scare in New York.
The worst response is to rebrand this disease. You can’t power-wash away the fact that Ebola isn’t some flu derivative, but a hemorrhagic fever.
(Please check out my Canto Talk program from this past Thursday, which discusses Mandy’s fundraiser and the media response to Ebola).
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