The Quarantine of people who have worked with Ebola patients


I am writing this post to offer a contrary opinion since I cannot agree with people who call the Doctors without Borders a whining progressive and other such epithets. First of all I read the story and I came to a different conclusion about her issues. I think she has a right to complain about how she was treated at the New Jersey air terminal.

First of all, Australia has had medical staff who have gone across to West Africa for the purpose of looking after Ebola patients. Doctors and nurses who take on this duty do so at a risk of their lives. Already 9 doctors associated with Medecin Sans Frontieres to give them their correct name have passed away because they came in contact with patients with the disease and they were not properly protected. The key issue here is proper procedure and protections for medical staff.

Australia has had one nurse who reported having a fever and she was placed into isolation. She had returned from West Africa where she had been tending Ebola patients. She has tested negative to Ebola. Her case more or less showed that the protocols put in place had not been sufficient and she was a possible risk. This particular nurse and at least 2 others have been in self-imposed isolation since their return from West Africa.

Now let me deal with the complaints made by the New Jersey nurse. You have to keep in mind that by going to West Africa she has already risked her life to help save the lives of others wherever possible. She did not have a fever when she returned to the USA. What took place at the air terminal caused her surface temperature to rise. Second, the kind of thermometer being used was not really the best method for taking an internal temperature.  This is why there was a discrepancy when she was checked at the hospital.

Second, and this is my point of writing a contrary opinion – I believe that the treatment dished out by the Homeland Security people at the airport, including the CDC people was absolutely appalling in this case. The nurse in her own words spoke of the smugness of the woman who was dealing with her, who pronounced “Now you do have a fever”.

Was this set up in a way that would see any attempt to isolate medical people returning from West Africa? The scenario as it was explained by the nurse stinks to high heaven, and it screams “SET UP”.  I am not blaming the unfortunate woman who was subjected to this treatment. I am blaming the Homeland Security staff who were tasked with checking on the health condition of the woman concerned. The treatment dished out to this woman is no different to the treatment dished out by the TSA when the single out the elderly, the disabled and childrent to receive a pat down and other indignities as they seek to catch a flight to some other part of the USA. The TSA seem to delight in making life uncomfortable for some people and I have read of many examples about how they have treated individuals at a variety of airports across the USA. (all they have to do is to check those with long flowing beards, wearing burquas or wearing garments that scream out Shahid – it is not all that hard to work out who might cause a risk on a given flight, they are easily identified)

I do think that there is a case for isolating anyone who returns from West Africa. If there is no fever when the person arrives back in the country, then surely that person could be put into self-imposed isolation for the 3 weeks. If there is a real measurable fever, and not the malarky that took place in New Jersey, then medical isolation is required. Otherwise, perhaps in Australia the Quarantine Station needs to be re-opened and in the USA, there might be a case for re-opening Ellis Island, but at least allowing such people to be isolated in some comfort, rather than what was described by this nurse.

Do I think that she is some whining progressive Democrat voter? NO!!  There is no proof that the woman is a Democrat voter……

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2 responses to “The Quarantine of people who have worked with Ebola patients

  1. Aussie,

    Love you but I think this time there is more than meets the eye in this situation.

    First off, let me start by remarking that if we listen to what the CDC and the President is saying those Doctors and Nurses should be in no danger. We know this is not true otherwise none of the healthcare workers would have been contaminated.

    As for the nurse, there are things about her that will come out in time but have not been reported. She was or is an employee an EIS officer of the CDC. Funny how that has not been mentioned.

    She had applied for Doctors without Borders and have been denied, she then went to work for the CDC as an EIS (Epidemic Intelligence Service) since at least 2004. Below is a link to a report from the CDC about pedestrian deaths in Clark County, Nevada. She is listed as an EIS officer as of July 2014.

    http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6328a1.htm

    This report was the source for a report on the local news and proposals to increase lighting among other things to help the situation. There was another article where she rails about the pharmaceuticals companies and the research universities due to the cost of drugs in poor countries.

    You may be right it was a set-up but by the Administration to forestall any further call for quarantines and the effects it would have on those workers who do go to Africa, by portraying their treatment on their return as barbaric and inhuman. Funny how these are the talking points of the Administration against any sort quarantine or ban on flights from Africa.

    Her treatment was less than desirable, as is expected from a last-minute policy implementation. But this is something that could be improved upon in the future, not reason to scrap it.

    Due to the long incubation period, any current non-intrusive method of screening is inadequate as we have seen. We have also seen that self-quarantine non-withstanding the experience in your country is not foolproof.

    The only times the Ebola virus has spread outside the outbreak area has been by human transport. IIRC in 1995-97 a patient was transported to South Africa causing an outbreak there at least one person died. Bats or other infected animals cannot fly over the oceans, human can. It is those humans who will spread the disease out of Africa.

    There is much uncertainty about Ebola, this latest epidemic has proven that, the fact that we still having healthcare workers in West Africa getting infected means that our safeguards are not as robust as we would like or the government wants us to think.

    I don’t think there will be an epidemic here in the States or in Australia for that matter, but I see a quarantine as a necessary precaution. Finally, those that volunteer for altruistic reasons will understand, though they may be inconvenienced or annoyed. It is those that do it for other reasons that will holler.

    Btw, Governor Cuomo has backed down on restrictions and will now allow home quarantine with relatives or friends visits. Also, a 5-year-old who just arrived on Saturday from Guinea was rushed to the hospital with a 103 degree fever and vomiting in New York.

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    • Bori, you are spot on!! I think that you have hit the nail on the head in regard to this particular nurse and the circumstances as described by her… basically, the message that I wanted to send on this matter was the way in which she described the treatment at the hands of the TSA and the CDC. After reading her story I could not put my finger on it, but the whole thing had the smell of a set up…

      Here in Australia, the nurses and doctors who have returned after a stint in West Africa have gone into voluntary isolation.

      Like your country, we have an issue with others coming into the country and after a scare involving an immigrant from West Africa there has been a decision to not allow any more into the country… for the time being.

      The greater issue is preparedness. Are we in fact prepared for what could be a pandemic in either of our countries?

      The old method was best…. quarantine at a quarantine station. Make it a comfortable stay for those who need to be quarantined. We had to puy people with typhoid and other communicable diseases into quarantine in the past and we need to do the same now, until we have a vaccine to use or some kind of cure for anyone who has signs of the disease.

      We can learn a lot from this episode of Ebola virus. First of all, there is something on the horizen that can be used. Production of that something is very slow at the present time. However, the big take happens to be the fact that a doctor and some nurses who tested positive and were treated (with the nurses receiving blood from the cured doctor) and were cured.

      BTW I can barely contain myself when it comes to the nonsense from the White House, especially the nonsensical claims about “I have hugged and kissed the nurses…..” Barry thinks that people are stupid enough that they cannot see how he is bluffing and showing extreme ignorance in regard to disease. Even in the case of Ebola, a person is most likely to pick it up during the incubation period… as well as anyone touching the body fluids of an infected person. Hugging a person who has been cured of the disease will not cause anyone else to become infected!!

      With regard to travellers, I continue to believe that the solution is to isolate them on arrival, but not in the manner described by that nurse. What should happen is that they are examined by a doctor, not by untrained staff. If they show no signs or symptoms then they should be free to return to their homes, and undergo voluntary isolation, and that means not travelling elsewehre, going out etc. etc…. If they are unwilling to undertake home isolation then they need to be placed elsewhere, and Ellis Island could be the answer as to where they could be place.

      Just one more point here…. in my family history, I note that one of my great grandfathers, a former soldier, ended up with a job mucking out trains. He died as a result of catching a contagious disease. His death was recorded as happening at Echuca station, obviously with a lot of other people who died from the same contagious disease.

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