Via Controversies in Hospital Infection Prevention, an important post by Dan: Morebola. Excerpt (but read the whole post):
The news tonight about Dr. Craig Spencer, an MSF volunteer who recently returned from caring for Ebola patients in Guinea, is sobering for several reasons. There are many details to come, but I thought I’d post a few quick initial thoughts (or reminders) about how this tragic development should, or shouldn’t, change the way we think about the Ebola virus outbreak:
This outbreak is occurring in West Africa. Not in the US. West Africa. The level of hysteria in the US is directly proportional to the number of Ebola patients on US soil, but we should never forget, even for a minute, that the outbreak continues to rage in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea (where Dr. Spencer acquired the infection). This widely cited Lancet modeling study suggests that 2-8 Ebola infected individuals will board planes monthly during their incubation period. Thus the best way to combat Ebola in the US is to mobilize resources for West Africa.
In the US, those at risk for Ebola are healthcare workers who have cared for Ebola patients (whether here or in West Africa). Not mall-goers, bowlers, subway riders, or those who might have been in an airport terminal on the same day as an asymptomatic Ebola patient. The greatest transmission risk is borne by those who provide direct care for Ebola patients during severe illness, when viral shedding is very high.
There may be no way to reduce Ebola transmission risk to zero in healthcare settings, given the current state of Personal Protective Equipment technology. Dr. Spencer reported no breaches in the MSF protocols, which are widely recognized as the most stringent (and effective) in use. Healthcare workers have always accepted some risk in provision of healthcare, and Ebola reminds us that the risks can be grave, and that healthcare workers willing to bear these risks are heroic.