More Thoughts on the Ebola Outbreak

I was on the road last week, so I’m just now getting around to posting my thoughts on developments of the last few days.

Thomas Eric Duncan, the patent diagnosed with Ebola in Dallas, passed away this week. Sad, but not surprising. There’s legitimate reasons that this disease is so scary.

The charges that he received inferior treatment because he was black are stupid, however.

The charges that Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital erred by sending Duncan home the first time probably have legs, however. Every step taken by the hospital in Duncan’s treatment will be scrutinized, and hospitals around the country should improve their processes as a result.

About Duncan, I suppose I can understand his lying on the exit interview from Liberia. If I knew I had been exposed to Ebola in Africa, I’d probably do everything I could to get to a Western country.

I’m not excusing this, but I can understand it.

But, once I got to the U.S., I certainly wouldn’t go hang out with my family while I waited to see if symptoms developed. Send them to stay with friends, and have then check in regularly by phone.

What he did certainly put them at considerable risk. How much damage he did remains to be seen.

Speaking of risks, I’m still not worried about a generalized outbreak in the United States. Even as incompetent as the government can be, they’ll be able to see this disease move and quarantine it.

The risk to first responders is real, but not to the general populus.

What does scare me is the chance of the disease mutating. No, it’s very unlikely to go airborne.

But changes in virulence are more possible.

Say the disease mutates so that it doesn’t knock you off your feet so quickly. The contagious are more likely to go out into the public and expose others.

Or another mutation might cause it to become contagious before symptoms are evident. That’s truly scary.

Yes, the odds of this happening are vanishingly low, but each time the virus replicates, those dice are thrown. Throw the dice enough times, and it just might happen.

That’s why it’s critically important that we attack the disease in Africa, where it’s running wild. It would be worth our investing time, talent and treasure to do so.

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