Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Nipping Ebola in the Bud?


If Ebola becomes a problem in the United States, it won't be because the experts here don't know how to handle it; it will be because there is not an adequate system in place to keep potential patients from walking into a crowded medical facility once their symptoms have appeared, and because whatever random place that patient walks into will be unprepared in that moment to deal with the situation. It seems like nipping this thing in the bud is not impossible, but its definitely looking like its going to be more challenging than was first suggested. A couple of ideas I heard were an 800 number for people to call if they think they've been infected (but how many operators would you need for that line, and how would teams respond to all the calls they get?) and a designated reporting location in a particular town for people to go to (but could you get that information to everyone who might be infected?) Hopefully we'll learn quickly. If what the nurses who complained in Texas are saying is true (and it sounds very plausible), I'm more concerned than I was before about our ability to cut this thing off. There is a big difference between the odds of a disease spreading if all patients are being treated in a CDC-Class biocontainment facility, and the odds of that same disease spreading if those same patients are walking into their Dr.'s offices or local emergency rooms. I'm not alarmed yet, I'm just a bit more worried about the outcome of this than I was yesterday.