For or Against Ebola Quarantine?

I usually don’t get involved in these kinds of discussions but a big part of this blog’s focus is Live Right!

So what do you think about this mandatory quarantine for health workers who were involved in caring for Ebola patients in the 3 affected West African countries and are now returning to the US?

The more I hear about Ebola, the more dangerous it seems and while it might be unconstitutional to put a person in quarantine against their will, why would anyone who thinks they have been infected not want to be quarantined anyway? Why go all the way to Africa to help fight a disease and then falter in your concern for the health of those around you when you return home.

The CDC says that a person shouldn’t be isolated until they get sick. But what is that point when the person moves from not-contagious to contagious. Is there a distinct line and how do you know when you’ve crossed it?

Dr Spencer, the doctor who got sick last week, he was self-monitoring for signs of Ebola and the news says he reported his symptoms as soon as his temperature got to 100.3. Average normal body temperature is 98.6 so was he contagious at that point where his temp was climbing from 98.6 to 100.3? What did he do during that couple of hours that might have exposed his loved ones to the virus. Did he eat something he thought didn’t agree with him and throw up in the bathroom, with just a single particle missing the bowl? Did he feel something in his throat and spit somewhere?

I’m not picking on the doctor, or any other person who has been exposed to the virus. I’m just saying we should be cautious and think about everyone’s rights, not just one group.

Anyway, these are the facts about Ebola:

  1. Ebola is highly contagious and is spread through contact with body fluids.
  2. When a person has been infected with the Ebola virus, there is a period where their immune system fights off the disease, but at the detriment of a weakened immune system. This battle can go on for days without the person being sick in any way. The reason the person starts displaying symptoms is that the immune system can no longer fight off the virus.
  3. About half of the people who have gotten Ebola, die. There are many Ebola-survivors in Africa – people who were infected with Ebola and have recovered without receiving any medication. These people are being studied and their blood sourced for blood transfusions – the doctor in NYC has received one of these blood transfusions to help him fight Ebola.
  4. The drug to treat Ebola is considered experimental and there are still very limited supplies, not enough to combat an outbreak in NYC.
  5. Exposure to a single particle and subsequent entry into the body, can cause Ebola, which is why the caregivers have to wear HazMat suits covering their entire bodies.
  6. The quarantine is for 21 days. If a person has been exposed to the virus and displays no symptoms within 21 days, the CDC considers it safe to assume that the person’s immune system won the fight and the threat of contracting Ebola is now nil.
  7. There was a patient zero. The outbreak began with one little boy in Guinea who got sick and died. Later, his family members also got sick and died. The rest, they say, is history.
  8. In Italy, the 21-day quarantine is being enforced for U.S. soldiers returning from Liberia.

ebola

Please don’t misunderstand my intent. I applaud all the health workers who have gone to these 3 African countries to help combat the spread of Ebola. The work they do and the sacrifice they make by going across the world to help is commendable. And I think they should receive a medal. But, I think it’s unreasonable to pretend that the risks are going to disappear when you enter American soil.

In the case of Dr. Spencer, the doctor in NYC, the day before he began exhibiting symptoms, he was moving around with his normal life. I think maybe in the couple days after he returned, he probably kept himself confined but after a few days back at home, I expect you want to feel like life is normal, you want to experience the things you missed when you were so far away. You want to take a cab and go hang out with your friends. You want to ride the subway and move around New York. I certainly understand the desire.

Which is why when something as serious as public health is on the line, maybe that choice can’t be left up to you.

I’ve had a contagious disease and you probably did too. The flu. Every year, thousands of people get it. I’ve had the flu and had to take a couple days off work because the cold and the pains and the fever was so bad. But what about those days before the fever got really high or before the pain kept us from getting out of bed. The CDC says that a person is infectious even before they start exhibiting the symptoms, let alone when you’ve already started to sniffle and sneeze.

But did you consider those other people when you got the flu? If you were working on a big project, chances are you tried to go to work too. You walked into the office, the picture of illness and your boss had to send you home before you got the whole office sick. Right? Sounds familiar. Yeah, because you’ve probably done it or known someone who did.

I once worked with someone who came to the office even though he thought he had shingles. I’ve worked with someone who came to the office when the “rash” he claimed was food poisoning turned out to be chicken-pox after we practically forced him to go to the doctor. People don’t always act in the best interest of themselves or the people around them.

Now I agree that these health workers should be compensated for their time and I’m not sure how that works for the other people who are traveling from these countries because just this morning, the news broke that a child who traveled from West Africa a few days ago was also taken to hospital with Ebola-like symptoms.

I’m not for lumping everyone together or discriminating against an entire region.

But I can’t support ignoring the facts and pray that someone else does something about them before it’s too late to do something about them.

What do you think about this mandatory-quarantine that the NYC and NJ Governors have instituted? 

Follow me on Twitter. I’ll be checking in on this story throughout the day. I’m listening for an update on the child who went to the hospital with Ebola-like symptoms after returning from West Africa a few days ago. Chances are, a child doesn’t take a flight from Africa by themselves. So I’m waiting to hear where the parent/guardian is and what’s their situation.

Finally, I pray that all those people affected will get well. Hopefully, they’ve been eating right and taking care of themselves so their immune system is strong.

Reason #239 to eat your vegetables 🙂

7 Comments Add yours

  1. Home quarantine makes sense. That’s what they do in Africa. Sticking a trained provider with no symptoms in a tent out of blind panic isn’t the way to do it, so I’m glad they released the nurse.

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    1. runwright says:

      Thanks for weighing in, Mikey. I don’t think putting people in a tent is the right thing to do, neither is doing nothing and praying that everything takes care of itself. I think somewhere in the middle is a solution that’s the right answer – an option that takes into account the rights of these health workers but also protects their loved ones and the general public from harm. What is your background? I don’t know how home-quarantine works. Can you elaborate? Who takes care of people who are home-bound?

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      1. I’m a medical imaging tech. I’ve worked in ICUs and isolation wards around diseases much easier to catch than Ebola, though less lethal.

        The general definition of home quarantine is that you stay home during the incubation period. You get your groceries delivered, and don’t see anyone, but you have your own things and can communicate on the phone, computer etc. You take care of yourself, because you aren’t sick, just waiting. If during that time you develop symptoms, you get transferred to hospital, and no one else has to be traced for exposure.

        Like HIV / AIDS, you don’t get Ebola from casual contact such as riding public transportation to get home. Unless you have symptoms, you aren’t infectious.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. runwright says:

    I’ll be following to see how the govt. officials update their position although the general consensus seems to be moving towards home quarantine.

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  3. Mummy Wright says:

    All persons who came in contact with the deadly virus should voluntarily go into quarantine. After all they have first hand knowledge and certainly would not wish to pass on what they witnessed to their loved ones. I even think the time frame of 21 days needs to be addressed – adding 2 days before and 2 days after just to be certain.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. runwright says:

      Mummy, I like the conservative stance. We know so little about this virus that I am likely to agree, don’t play around if you can avoid it.

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      1. Actually, the 21 days is already quite conservative. 80% of patients who develop the disease show symptoms by the tenth day. And we know a lot about the virus. It’s been around and in study since 1976.

        I highly recommend Preston’s 1994 book “The Hot Zone”. It’s a compendium of stories about the early days of studying the African hemorrhagic fevers.

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