As health officials are reportedly reaching out to as many as 100 people who had contact with the first patient to be diagnosed with Ebola in the United States, public health experts are working to reassure the public that the virus would be contained—even as they expect more cases to enter the country.
“While it is very likely we will see more imported cases, it is too early to say if this will happen on a regular basis,” said Jen Kates, vice president and director of global health and HIV policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation.
“Given the attention to this and precautions, [it is] unlikely to become a regular health occurrence, particularly if public health guidance is followed.”
The stepdaughter of Texas Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan says she’s worried about the kisses and hugs her children gave him over the weekend — even though he wasn’t secreting any bodily fluids and had the strength to walk to the ambulance under his own steam. Youngor Jallah spoke with NBC News by phone from the Dallas apartment where she, her husband and four young children are voluntarily quarantined — taking their temperature twice daily and looking for possible symptoms of the deadly virus.
“I’m a little scared,” said her 11-year-old son, Joe-Joe.
— Ed Henry (@edhenry) October 2, 2014
Some Dallas parents pulled their children out of school Wednesday after health officials said five area children had come into contact with an Ebola patient over the weekend.
The five children were kept at home Wednesday, but that did not stop families from picking up their kids out of fears they might be vulnerable to illness, according to local news reports.
Parents at Sam Tasby Middle School and LL Hotchkiss Elementary were seen picking up their children following Wednesday’s press conference.
[T]wo weeks later, the president’s reassurances have turned out to be false. A Liberian infected with the virus, Thomas Eric Duncan, flew from Monrovia to Brussels to Virginia to Dallas. No screening at any airport stopped him, nor did any flight crews. The possibility that someone with Ebola reached American shores turned out not to be “unlikely” at all. And then, when Duncan arrived in Dallas, the doctors, nurses and medical staff at the hospital he entered were not prepared and in fact released him back into the Dallas population where, fully symptomatic, he had contact with lots of people. The system, in other words was not “able to deal with a possible case safely.”
Obama devoted almost all his remarks in Atlanta to U.S. efforts to fight Ebola in Africa. He talked about the efforts of the U.S. Army, the Public Health Service, USAID and others. It is a huge undertaking, Obama said. The only problem is, he wasn’t as well prepared at home.
Under intense questioning from reporters, officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Texas health department and the City of Dallas repeatedly declined Thursday to provide details about the steps being taken to prevent an outbreak…
Frieden also said that, in theory, a sneeze or cough could spread the virus from someone experiencing Ebola symptoms. Officials had previously downplayed this possibility, focusing on direct contact with bodily fluids.
“There are certainly theoretical situations where someone sneezes … and you touch your eyes or mouth or nose,” and catch the virus from any transmitted particles, he said. “[But] realistically you can say what may be theoretically possible as opposed to what actually happens in the real world,” he added.
Under section 361 of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S. Code § 264), the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services is authorized to take measures to prevent the spread of communicable diseases into the United States and between states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which holds the authority for carrying out these functions…
Isolation and quarantine can be imposed by states under their police power functions, which give them the right to protect the health and safety of people within their borders. The four people currently quarantined in Texas are Duncan’s close family members. They received orders Wednesday from Texas and Dallas County officials “not to leave the apartment or to receive visitors without approval” until October 19, TIME’s Alex Altman reports.
But if states’ powers are not enough to stem the spread of a disease, the federal government can also institute isolation and quarantine. The last time this was used on a large scale was during the “Spanish Flu” pandemic in 1918-1919, according to the CDC.
Frieden said more than a dozen people from the countries most affected by Ebola were prevented from boarding flights to the U.S. in September. Duncan did not develop fever and symptoms until four days after he arrived in Dallas.
The four people in the apartment where he stayed are now under quarantine, prevented from leaving their home by a law enforcement officer stationed outside the complex. If any of the individuals violate the order, a formal court order will be issued. None of the people are symptomatic, but, said Dr. David Lakey, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services, he “had concern about our ability to be confident that monitoring was going to take place the way we needed it to take place.” People who might have had contact with Duncan are being monitored with twice daily temperature checks and, he said, without elaborating on the reasons, “we felt this [quarantine order] was needed.”
Food is being delivered to the four people in the apartment and Lakey said a cleaning service had been found to thoroughly clean the residence as well. Health officials visited the apartment when Duncan was admitted to the hospital, and helped the residents bag Duncan’s belongings, along with trash and towels that he used. In an interview with Anderson Cooper 360° due to air Thursday evening, however, Duncan’s partner, Louise, with whom he stayed and is one of those quarantined, said the sheets he used were still on the bed. She and the other four people in the apartment were also instructed about how to decontaminate areas that Duncan might have touched, until more thorough cleaning could be done.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) on Wednesday questioned President Obama’s decision to dispatch 3,000 U.S. troops to West Africa to help combat the Ebola virus.
“Where is disease most transmittable? When you’re in very close confines on a ship,” Paul said on Laura Ingraham’s radio show. “We all know about cruises and how they get these diarrhea viruses that are transmitted very easily and the whole ship gets sick. Can you imagine if a whole ship full of our soldiers catch Ebola?”
“It’s a big mistake to downplay and act as if ‘oh, this is not a big deal, we can control all this.'” he added. “This could get beyond our control.”
Mobley said the CDC is “sugar-coating” the risk of the virus spreading in the United States.
Watch the CDC discuss the Ebola case here.
“For them to say last week that the likelihood of importing an Ebola case was extremely small was a real bad call,” he said.
“Once this disease consumes every third world country, as surely it will, because they lack the same basic infrastructure as Sierra Leone and Liberia, at that point, we will be importing clusters of Ebola on a daily basis,” Mobley predicted. “That will overwhelm any advanced country’s ability to contain the clusters in isolation and quarantine. That spells bad news.”
The longer the Ebola epidemic continues infecting people unabated, the higher the chances it will mutate and become airborne, the UN’s Ebola response chief has warned.
Anthony Banbury, the Secretary General’s Special Representative, has said there is a ‘nightmare’ prospect the deadly disease will become airborne if it continues infecting new hosts…
He also admitted the international community had been late to respond to what was the worst disaster he had ever witnessed.
He said: ‘In a career working in these kinds of situations, wars, natural disasters – I have never seen anything as serious or dangerous or high risk as this one.’
Why is anyone from Liberia, Sierra Leone, or Guinea — the source of the Ebola outbreak — being permitted to enter the United States?
The Liberian Ebola victim in Dallas seems to have used a visitor visa to travel here “to visit family members.” The idea that we allow people from those countries to board planes for the U.S. so long as they don’t have a fever is absurd. There are more than 13,000 people from those three countries with visas to enter the U.S. Here’s a list of African countries with travel restrictions on Ebola-affected countries — what’s our problem?
I’ll tell you our problem: Much of our political class is simply uncomfortable with the idea that border and immigration controls should be used vigorously and unapologetically to protect Americans.