Thursday, October 2, 2014

Guest Post : Ebola, The Press And The CDC

This drifted into TOD's in-box about 21 days ago and of course we thought nothing of it. Then a fever set in...
I'm left to wonder what is NOT being reported by media, including AJC, about the ebola patients and their care here. I have questions, including the following:
  1. The doctor and aide worker were both following a safety protocol in Africa. Because they both contracted the disease, we must conclude either (a) the safety protocol has flaws, or (b) someone in the chain of care did not follow the protocols. Which was it? How are we to be assured this will not be repeated in Atlanta?
  2. All protocols require strict adherence to pre-ordained rules. Each person in the loop, from the lowest janitor to the most talented surgeon, must do exactly as the rules require each moment of each day. Mathematically, statistically, this cannot be maintained indefinitely—especially over a long period of time, in the stress of life-threatening actions and disease containment. An argument for chaos theory (ala Jurassic Park), there will be a breakdown somewhere. It's human to make mistakes. The CDC over the last months has proven that even their highly-trained personnel do not follow all procedures all of the time. So far, the CDC has dodged the bullets of disastrous accident results, but the laws of probability suggest that it's just a matter of time. Add the stress of 24/7 requirements, a growing number of patients, and consequently a worsening ratio between the number of trained health workers and the number of patients, and the probability of containment drops off a cliff that a lemming would envy. What are the plans in place for breaches of containment? The public has a right to know.
  3. The treatment of ebola requires blood transfusions and IV fluids. According to the media, nothing else can be done. What follows is that there is nothing being done here for these patients that was not already being done in Africa. The only reason the CDC would be involved in bringing these two patients to Atlanta is to further their knowledge of the disease. These two people are human guinea pigs. The only reason to bring them to the USA is to study the effects of the experimental medicine they both received in Liberia. Labs here are better than labs in Liberia. What is the public not being told?
  4. Emory has advertised the safety of their isolation unit. Let the public see some of those safety built-ins. The air circulation system is a closed loop, but ebola is not spread by air. Are there any walls or ductwork or pipes shared with other parts of the hospital? Are medical wastes handled differently in this unit than they are in the rest of the hospital?
  5. The media repeats that ebola is spread neither by air nor by mosquitos. That it is not airborne has been proven in labs. But from what is in print, the only reason mosquitos are not considered agents of spread is that no one has proven that they are. More importantly, has anyone done studies involving two of most big-city disease spreaders—cockroaches and rats? I have personally attended the grand opening of an infection control center in a large US cancer ward (in the South, but not in Atlanta), and witnessed cockroaches running across the floor as the ribbons were cut. Roaches are known spreaders of other non-air borne diseases. How are these vermin being handled in this situation?
  6. The screening of travelers from West Africa at US airports is a waste of time. Experts stress that an infected person may go 3 weeks before symptoms appear. How will someone at a screening center know that? Required blood tests? No one is going to be responsible for that. And what about people who had intermediate stops in other African, Asian, or European destinations? Is it not ironic that laws make it more difficult to bring a pet dog into London than an exposed Liberian into the United States?
Talking heads saying nothing new, footage of a patient in a moon-suit, interviews with ambulance cleaners, pictures of planes with pod-containments—these are all nothing but sound and sight bytes for broadcasting to an ignorant public too trusting that we are really being informed of anything substantive at all.
Like many others we in The Other Dunwoody were initially dismissive of this missive. After all we'd been told that proper procedures were in place, not only in Africa, but in the U.S. That should any visitor display symptoms these would be immediately recognized as Ebola and prompt and effective treatment would ensue. That was before we DID have the first case diagnosed in the U.S. That was before we learned that the infected individual went to the hospital, not once but twice, having been send home the first time without a correct diagnosis. That was before we learned that the infected individual had contact with school children. That was before we learned the many things we are just about to learn...making the above concerns look like the tip of the iceberg.