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Ebola Hysteria Hits Nation After Sick Nurse Flies Commercial
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Summary: With the outbreak of 3 Ebola patients in the U.S., and one sick nurse who flew on a commercial flight, the nation panics.

Ebola hysteria is spreading like a virus. When Thomas Eric Duncan flew from West Africa to Texas, after which he was diagnosed with Ebola, one of a handful of people who have been so outside of Africa, he infected at least two other people before he died. Those two people were among the nurses who tended for him while he was staying at Texas Health Presbyterian Dallas. One of the nurses, Amber Vinson, who was being monitored to discern if she had contracted the disease, decided to fly to Ohio on a commercial plane, sharing the flight with 132 other passengers. Many fear that such negligence in monitoring those infected with the virus could herald an outbreak equal to what we are seeing in West Africa, where 4,000 have so far died.


“She was being monitored here in Dallas,” said Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Tom Frieden, as reported by CNN. “And if she was being monitored correctly, I think she should have never gotten on that flight.”

What he is hinting at is a systems failure. Many are calling into question whether Texas Health Presbyterian Dallas adequately handled the Ebola situation. The CDC is learning its lesson and changing its guidelines.

“The CDC guidance in this setting outlines the need for what is called controlled movement. That can include a charter plane, a car, but it does not include public transport,” said Frieden. “We will from this moment forward ensure that no other individual who is being monitored for exposure undergoes travel in any way other than controlled movement.”

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This is not to say the 132 passengers on Vinson’s plane need be worried. At the time of her flight, she had shown none of the symptoms of Ebola, and the disease only spreads when symptoms are present. Nevertheless, the CDC is reaching out to the fellow passengers requesting interviews.

The plane, meanwhile, has undergone decontamination before returning to services Wednesday.

“I don’t think we have a systematic institutional problem,” opined Dr. Daniel Varga, chief clinical officer of Texas Health Resources. They “may have done some things differently with the benefit of what we know today. No one wants to get this right more than our hospital.”

On the contrary, it could be President Barack Obama also wants to get this right. He cancelled his trips to New Jersey and Connecticut Wednesday to address the government’s role in facing the outbreak.

“We’re going to make sure that something like this is not repeated, and that we are monitoring, supervising, overseeing in a much more aggressive way exactly what’s taking place in Dallas … and making sure that the lessons learned are then transmitted to hospitals all across the country,” said the president.

Certainly something is being widely transmitted, but it’s not Ebola. The disease makes for a scary and exciting story, but with a mere three infections in the U.S., all fiercely monitored, with entire committees and the very President scrutinizing its every move, it seems clear that the news of the outbreak makes for a fascinating concern, if not a true threat.

Are we overreacting to the Ebola outbreak?

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