Bringing Ebola to the U.S.

11 Aug

We Americans are so conflicted about things like bringing medical personnel with active ebola back into our country.

On the one hand, we are at heart isolationist. What happens overseas stays overseas. Don’t bring your epidemics here.

And rightly so.

If an American soldier goes overseas in the service of our nation and gets a disease, we either treat him in Germany or Japan, at a military hospital there, or bring him back here.

But we are more ambivalent about people who *choose* to go into areas where epidemics could rage.

Now neither of the medical personnel with ebola went into Liberia *after the epidemic started. That would be foolhardy. But they went there knowing an epidemic of some sort *could start. And we Americans can be very intent on having everyone weigh their own risks and make their own decisions, accepting their own consequences.

On the other hand, we love a story of selflessness in the face of serving humanity. And certainly both of the medical personnel brought back from Liberia did exactly that.

Justice says “leave everyone who is the victim of an epidemic to be treated by the best hospital in the area of the epidemic.” But Americans often favor grace and graciousness which says, “You were being selfless, taking care of others, so let us be selfless and bring you back here where we can take care of you.”

The problem is that we must exercise such care with ebola. We all need to be aware of that so that we, as a nation, do not slip up.

It is not like AIDS, as one letterwriter to our paper implied.

Yes, both are spread by direct contact with body fluids.

But you need to get a lot more of the AIDS virus not only *on you, but *in you.

Ebola will enter any microscopic break in your skin. And only a few molecules of virus seems to be necessary to produce an infection in a new victim . . .

Not to mention, ebola victims are not only constantly vomiting and having diarrhea, but they bleed from those orifices, as well as their eyes and ears.

Try not getting splattered with body fluids when they are coming out everywhere. And getting smeared on every surface in an airplane bathroom, as the five additional ebola victims from that flight from Liberia to Nigeria have shown. It only took one victim, who died within an hour of arrival in Lagos, Nigeria, to start the epidemic there, in the most populous city of the most populous country in Africa.

Yes, I believe we should bring our medical personnel home, but exercise caution well beyond what seems reasonable when we do so!!!


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