Ed mentioned earlier today that Canada will be joining the group of nations instituting travel bans and/or quarantines from Ebola afflicted nations, while the United States will stick with the airport screening route. But don’t worry… I’m sure that will work out just fine.
These scientific studies show that airport Ebola screenings are largely ineffective
Those travelers now have to submit to temperature checks and questioning. But scientific studies published by the National Institutes of Health have shown that similar protocols were largely ineffective during an outbreak of Swine Flu in 2009, as Government Executive pointed out in an article last week.
A study of screenings at Australia’s Sydney Airport during the Swine Flu pandemic found that fever was detected in 5,845 passengers during the roughly two-month period covered by the analysis. Only three of those individuals ended up having the virus, which is known in the scientific community as H1N1.
Researchers determined that 45 patients who acquired the illness overseas would have “probably passed through the airport” during the roughly two-month period covered in the study. That means the screeners likely missed the vast majority of individuals who arrived at the facility with Swine Flu, despite grabbing thousands of travelers who showed signs of fever.
I’m sure we’re all feeling so much more confident now. Particularly when you consider that there may or may not be two more people in Oregon on the list. Was anyone monitoring them when they arrived at the airport? If so, did they just miss it because their 21 day period was not yet up and they felt just fine, like the famous bicycling nurse in Maine?
It’s comforting to be told that people aren’t contagious when asymptomatic. Of course, at the same time, most of these current Ebola patients can still not tell us where or when they contracted the virus. When you put those two factors together, it seems as if a rational person might think it prudent to limit exposures in general until such things were more definitively nailed down. Those would be the rational people in Canada and Australia, just to name a couple.
But such considerations can carry over to the personal level as well. We keep discussing the hero status of those who travel to Africa to battle this disease and I certainly won’t deny it. But upon their return, I would guess that people with such altruistic souls might think to put up with a couple more weeks of inconvenience just to stay on the safe side for the greater good. You know… like that Doctor in California. He returned from Liberia and was volunteering to lock himself up in his house before anyone from the government even had a chance to debate the matter. (The guy even sent his dog away to live with relatives until he had a clean bill of health.) He continues to feel fine with not a single symptom, but he’s not leaving his house. During an interview on CNN this morning (via Skype) he said it was worth it even if all he accomplished was to “not scare the neighbors.”
That’s seems just a tad more altruistic than hiring a lawyer and heading out for some buffalo wings, doesn’t it?