Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Dealing with Ebola



What's the big flap over quarantining a person suspected of being infected with a highly contagious killer disease?

Is it the WORD "quarantine?"

According to http://www.merriam-webster.com,


    1: the period of time during which a person or animal that has a disease or that might have a disease is kept away from others to prevent the disease from spreading

    2: the situation of being kept away from others to prevent a disease from spreading

A health professional returning from an Ebola-infected area was incensed that New Jersey's government ordered her into a hospital's infection disease section for 72 hours; long enough for her to be tested.

While in the hospital the health care professional had 'round-the-clock care, meals, medications and - I'm guessing here - telephonic contact with the outside world. And she didn't even have to clean the bathroom or wash her dishes. Like being in a hotel with room service. On New Jersey's tab.

After three days in New Jersey - I lived there and it can seem an awfully long time - she was released to go to her home in, I think, Maine, where she will be quarantined at home - where she will have no visitors, no one to cook, clean, and wash dishes for her; hopefully someone stocked her cupboards and fridge before she arrived; otherwise groceries and other necessities will have to be left on the front stoop.

MEANWHILE, the CDC, playing catch-up with its recommendations, is telling people who might be carrying Ebola to check their temperatures twice-a-day.

Wonderful. Once the symptoms are present - high fever being one of several - the person is infectious; able to easily transmit the disease. Better, the person should be isolated- is "isolated more "PC" than quarantined?" - in a controlled (i.e., hospital) setting.

The U.S. military that is sending personnel into the Ebola danger zone plans to quarantine the returning people in Italy for 21 days, Ebola's incubation period. But if you are in Uncle Sugar's military, you do what you are told when you are told. I'm sure those about to be quarantined want to get back to their loved ones as much as the health care professional did, but I doubt there will be any loud complaints. To be fair, they will be in a group isolation just like boot camp (basic training); the Italian countryside just beyond their tether. Unlike the healthcare professional, the military men and women will have to do their own housekeeping (although I doubt any brass will visit to inspect the area).

As a child I was quarantined on more than one occasion: mumps, rubeola, and rubella - I don't think I escaped any childhood disease. It made life difficult being kept at home, and there was a large sign on the door that read


A police line's yellow Do Not Cross tape is far less effective in keeping people at bay that the sign with the large print word "QUARANTINE."

Call me old fashioned - or just plain "old," that's true, too - but quarantining people arriving from an area of infection seems a reasonable precaution; in Risk Management terms, risk mitigation.

Animals arriving from, or being sent overseas are quarantined.

Produce coming from overseas is sometimes quarantined and sometimes destroyed at the point of entry.

Quarantine is a legitimate method to control the spread of contagions.

I can't understand why anyone would complain at what most would consider a minor inconvenience - and with room service yet.

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