Can we prepare for Ebola now without being called alarmists? Another TX health care worker tests positive, 125 others being watched — UDPATED

StethescopeBy Lynn R. Mitchell

From USA Today (see Second Texas health-care worker tests positive for Ebola by Rick Jervis and Doug Stanglin):

A second hospital worker who helped care for Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan has tested positive for the disease, the Texas Department of State Health Services said in a statement early Wednesday.

The health-care worker, who was not identified, reported a fever Tuesday and was immediately isolated at the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.

In addition, 125 others are being watched for symptoms and the hospital is prepared for additional cases. The mayor of Dallas warned it may get worse before it gets better. Meanwhile the World Health Organization (WHO) called it the worst health crisis in modern times.

I’m not an alarmist but I do believe in being prepared. Even as the American government continues to tell us not to worry, the death rate has risen to 70 percent for this potentially lethal disease. As I wrote earlier this week (see Dallas hospital worker tests positive for Ebola):

Thomas Eric Duncan was first at the hospital emergency room with 103 temperature and sent home with antibiotics. It’s a little alarming to think about the possibility of multiple infections from that first visit when it was unknown that he was suffering from Ebola — door handles, chairs, writing pens for filling out forms — is all that a possibility? I’m kind of a germaphobe anyway as far as washing hands and cleaning door knobs with Clorox wipes. I can only imagine what Mr. Duncan came into contact with and how those who interacted with him may be reacting to this latest news. Will there be more? Health care workers are on the front line of this lethal disease.

Piers Morgan, of all people, has come down hard on the handling of this issue (see The CDC say we need to ‘rethink’ Ebola. No s*** Sherlock. But what ELSE aren’t they telling us?):

What are we NOT being told about Ebola? How is it that so many health workers around the world are now going down with this lethal virus? Why should we continue to trust the official ‘protocols’ laid down for dealing with Ebola when there are so many apparent ‘breaches’?

These are three very serious questions that need to be answered very quickly. The World Health Organisation warned today there could be an explosion in the spread of Ebola in the next month, with as many as 10,000 new victims a week.

CDC chief Dr Thomas Frieden now says we need to ‘rethink the way we address Ebola infection.’

No s***, Sherlock.

If anyone thinks they’re out of the fray because they don’t live in a high population area, think again. There was a scare this week at Augusta County’s Blue Ridge Community College right here in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia (see Sick BRCC Visitor Doesn’t Have Ebola).

Will American troops now deployed to Africa be safely protected?

It’s understandable that the CDC and government officials want to avoid panic but for the CDC to originally treat this issue lightly only to come back and admit perhaps they underestimated the situation is not comforting. Now we have the Democratic blame game that Republicans cut spending that could have prevented this outbreak. Take into consideration that the Centers for Disease Control’s $7 billion budget is almost 200 percent larger than it was in 2000.

Michelle Malkin points out the CDC has veered off its appointed purpose by pursuing mandatory motorcycle helmet laws, receiving $10 million to study violence in video games and TV, oversight of playground equipment, and funding studies promoting safe, nurturing relationships (see The Centers for Everything but Disease Control). Her question: What do those have to do with disease control? As the Washington Post discovered, that pattern was going on as far back as 1999 (see Audit Shows CDC Misled Congress About Funds).

Most Americans don’t want a panic situation but rightfully want to know exactly what they are dealing with, how to prepare, and how to avoid infection. As the Washington Post editorial board noted, no one wants to cause alarm but no one wants to be lied to either (see Keeping an even keel at home on Ebola):

… we think Dr. Frieden and others are wise to prepare for the worst, including by making sure that hospitals across the country know what to do if a patient shows symptoms that look like Ebola and have the ability to respond rapidly and effectively. At a time of tension, the nation’s public health leaders must not overpromise.

Indeed.

UPDATE: Not long after learning on Wednesday morning of the second Texas health care worker testing positive for Ebola came news that she had flown from Cleveland to Dallas the day before her diagnosis (see CDC: U.S. health worker with Ebola should not have flown on commercial jet by CNN reporters Josh Levs and Holly Yan):

The second Dallas health care worker who was found to have the Ebola virus should not have boarded a commercial jet Monday, health officials say.

Because she had helped care for Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan, and because another health worker who cared for Duncan had been diagnosed with Ebola, the worker was not allowed to travel on a commercial plane with other people, said Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The worker had a temperature of 99.5 Fahrenheit (37.5 Celsius) before she boarded her flight, he added.

The risk of exposure to the passengers who were on the plane with Vinson is low, since she did not yet have symptoms, health officials said Wednesday. The Ebola virus is not contagious before symptoms set in.

Still, the CDC wants to interview all 132 passengers who were on the plane with her.

“Because of the proximity in time between the evening flight and first report of illness the following morning, CDC is reaching out to passengers who flew on Frontier Airlines flight 1143 Cleveland to Dallas/Fort Worth Oct. 13,” the CDC said in a statement. The flight landed Monday at 8:16 p.m. CT.

While the Texas hospital deals with its third Ebola patient, the situation in West Africa is getting increasingly dire.

There could be 10,000 new Ebola cases per week in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea by the end of this year as the outbreak spreads, the WHO warned Tuesday.

The stock market is reacting to the Ebola uncertainty in addition to economic weakness and concerns about Europe but closed higher after a low of more than 400-point loss earlier in the day:

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 173 points, or 1.06 percent, at 16,141.74, with JPMorgan Chase the greatest decliner as six blue-chips gained, led by Johnson & Johnson.

In a cumulative move of about 1200 points in losses and gains, the Dow came off session lows of a 458-point drop to below 16,000, a level it has not breached since February 14. The drop was the index’s largest intraday loss since a 552-point decline on Sept. 22, 2011.

To quote the Dallas mayor, this may get worse before it gets better.

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