A few more thoughts on Ebola

I don’t care how many other media sites generate clickbait headlines on Ebola. We’re going to be calm here at TIE. It’s tragic, again, that a second person has been diagnosed with Ebola in Texas. It’s more so, because it’s a healthcare worker taking care of the first patient. But it’s important to remember that this is, unfortunately, “normal” for Ebola. Healthcare workers are often the ones most at risk for getting the disease, as being exposed to bodily fluids while the patient is sick is the only way to get it.

Most of the other Americans flown home with Ebola were healthcare workers. The person who just caught the disease in Spain was a healthcare worker. Many who get it in Africa are caregivers and healthcare workers. So, again, this is a horrible development in Texas, and it indicates an ongoing risk for those who care for patients with Ebola, but the average American’s risk for catching the disease is still near zero.

That said, there are a few things out there worth your time and consideration (which I may update periodically):

  • Jon Cohn’s piece on how we might change our approach to caring for patients with Ebola in the US is very thoughtful.
  • This NYT graphic/post/article on the procedures for healthcare workers caring for people with Ebola shows how hard it is to be careful.
  • Related to this, is this piece from the Washington Post on how to suit up and down.
  • Maybe this might be a good time to talk about how we keep cutting the funding for medical research? Including that for health services research, which might help with infection control procedures?

I leave you with two further pleas. The first is to our friends out there who report on health/media. I know it will be tempting to sensationalize Ebola to generate traffic. I ask you to think carefully about your headlines and tweets. Is it really worth it to stir up panic for some ad revenue?

The second is to anyone who feels the need to tweet/email/call/talk to me in a “triumphant” way that you’re “vindicated” by a new case of Ebola, and that people (including me) have been “wrong” to say that Americans are at low risk for Ebola in this country. It honestly sickens me that you could feel good at all about the fact that someone got Ebola. It’s a terrible disease, and I am sure that the nurse and her family are out of their minds with worry. Empathy should be the rational response here. That said, none of these developments change the story of Ebola at all for average Americans. We need to reevaluate our protocols for healthcare workers caring for patients with Ebola, but I promise you, person-living-in-another-state-from-the-infected-person-in-this-country, you’re still ok.


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