Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Despite Finest Medical Care in the World, First Ebola Death in U.S. Raises Level of Concern

Do we trust that the government is telling us the truth about the deadly disease and doing all it can to stop it?

Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man who arrived in Dallas before becoming symptomatic with Ebola died Wednesday morning. His condition became critical over the weekend and he was given a new antiviral drug on Monday which apparently failed to halt progression of the disease. Duncan did not receive the ZMapp drug, supplies of which are now depleted with the last dose going to a victim in Norway. The drug's effectiveness is still uncertain.

Meanwhile, Jesse Jackson arrived in Dallas on Tuesday questioning whether Duncan had received the highest level of care. Never let a crisis go to waste hunh Jesse?

This case and the shifting information being provided by government officials has raised concerns. Less than a month ago Obama said it was "unlikely" that anyone with Ebola would reach our shores. The Centers for Disease Control have altered their warnings on Ebola expressing less certainty about the routes of transmission. In an era where trust in government is at an all time low and we've seen the corruption of formerly apolitical agencies like the IRS and the Department of Justice people aren't so trusting of CDC reports.

Stories of the NBC cameraman and Spanish nurse who came down with Ebola raise concerns that the virus is easier to catch than official pronouncements would suggest. The question of possible airborne transmission continues to stoke fear.

A large outbreak of Ebola appears remote in the U.S. As long as individual cases of sick persons and those in close contact with them can be quarantined it should be possible to contain the disease. However, it's entirely possible that flareups will happen in areas across the country as the disease spreads worldwide. What can you do to protect yourself and your family?

The Washington Post had a good article on the basic facts, as we understand them, on Ebola transmission. A person with an active infection beyond just aches, pains and fever can transmit Ebola by touching surfaces that are later touched by uninfected persons. The length of viable surface contamination varies depending on the volume of any infected bodily fluids. An infected person touching a door knob or a table may leave viable virus particles capable of infecting you up to several hours later. Imagine the number of times a day you touch a doorknob or enter your PIN at the grocery checkout or handle money.

The best defense against these exposures is to use hand sanitizer after every contact with a surface or other human being in public areas. That's also a good way to prevent infection from the flu or the common cold. It's good advice during flu season despite any Ebola fears.

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