Sunday, November 2, 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 suies 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. 

Smooth Skin Tomatoes Probably Safe

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.

Gerbils Need Ebola Protection

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?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you...thank you....thank you!!! I don't think I can say that enough. It is really lovely to see someone writing about this with common sense. Panic serves NO benefit to anyone...such a waste of energy. I am so tired of the hysteria surrounding this whole issue.

Ebola is a CONTACT isolation situation. Clostridium difficile should, perhaps, be considered harder to deal with since hand sanitizer isn't sufficient hand hygiene to address it. Healthy folks are less likely to get this so it is far too easy to be complacent...yet it is the most common infection folks get in the hospital...from the hospital and this pathogen has a significant mortality rate in the US for being a preventable illness: Per one source, 6.9% at 30 days and 16.7% at one year. (

Contrast this with our current US ebola stats: 1 person has died in this country of the all of the folks who were treated here. Additionally, of the 75 folks caring for the one guy who died, 2 contracted the illness during a time of "wildly varying protocols" as one media outlet reported it.

I don't know about when docs are learning this but nurses are taught how to use PPE at the very start of nursing school. If we have become slack with technique, that is our own fault and we are duty bound as professionals to seek out the knowledge. Watch videos, partner up with peers at work...practice...get good at this. Ebola should be the least of our worries with all of the MDROs currently floating around our hospitals. Hopefully, though, we can use the momentum of the fear generated by ebola to do something positive and start practicing correct infection prevention strategies.

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