Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Ebola hysteria in Ohio
The Ebola hysteria continues. True, we might have a greater chance of being struck twice by lightning, but the press would have us think we need to purchase Hazmat suits for our families just to be prepared. I'm surprised that an entrepreneur hasn't at least constructed prototypes for Hazmat suites for newborns, popular dog breeds, pet rodents and heirloom tomatoes.
Yes, tomatoes. I have not heard any authoritative official from either the NIH, the CDC the WHO or Medicins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) who have stated unequivocally that you cannot contract Ebola from an heirloom tomato. To me, the hypothesis is entirely plausible as the sneaky virus can hide in the heirloom's surface crevices just waiting and hoping to gain access into an unsuspecting mucous membrane.
As of this writing, there are 159 contacts in Ohio who have had contact with an Ebola infected nurse who for reasons known but to God was cleared by the CDC to board a commercial airplane with a fever after she had treated an Ebola patient in Texas. Each day, the number of Ohio contacts grows, so by the time these words are posted on Sunday, I expect that there will be more contacts.
The definition of what constitutes contact with an Ebola patient is evolving. As of today, the new and improved definition of contact is being an enclosed space with the patient for any length of time. Hmm, if I am watching the Cleveland Cavaliers in our downtown stadium from the last row, and an Ebola patient is in the first row on the opposite side, am I now considered a contact? Would all 10,000 fans be forced to enter into a 21 day period of quarantine?
Does it matter that medical experts have consistently explained that you cannot catch this virus unless the infected individual is symptomatic and you are within reach of that individual's bodily secretions?
An Ohio school was closed as a staff member was on the Frontier airplane that the nurse had traveled on although on a different flight. Two hospitals in Cleveland sent nurses home with pay and admitted publicly that this was for PR protection, not for patient protection. What hope is there when our medical institutions are lubricating our hysteria instead of battling it?
This past Monday, I noticed a new procedure had been implemented in our office. On the advice of local and state medical authorities, we were asking every patient who enters our office, if they have in to West Africa or had contact with an individual who has been there. This nonsensical policy would protect no one. There are zero known Ebola patients in Ohio at present. This is a difficult disease to contract as contracting this virus requires that one is in direct contact with bodily fluids of an infected person. Querying every patient about recent travels from West Africa only feeds the hysteria, while it burns up our staff's time. Asking Granny who comes to see us from her assisted living facility if she's been to Sierra Leone recently, doesn't seem to be sound preventive medical policy.
I think that our moratorium on heirloom tomato ingestion makes more sense than the Ebolaphobia policy. Can this post go viral?
This post by Michael Kirsch, MD, FACP, appeared at MD Whistleblower. Dr. Kirsch is a full time practicing physician and writer who addresses the joys and challenges of medical practice, including controversies in the doctor-patient relationship, medical ethics and measuring medical quality. When he's not writing, he's performing colonoscopies.
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