When the Ebola outbreak first hit American soil, I asked “Can the CDC Be Trusted?” Sadly, my apprehensions about the CDC’s ability to contain an outbreak proved to be not only true, but scarily did not go far enough. How many different ways have the CDC endangered Americans’ lives since we first heard about an Ebola patient in a Dallas hospital?
1. Despite being unprepared for the treatment of an Ebola patient, Thomas Eric Duncan remained in the care of a local Dallas Hospital. Two staff members would eventually contract the disease while he was in their care.
2. Containment guidelines either not followed or not sufficient. The fact that not one, but two, nurses contracted Ebola while caring for Duncan illustrates a failure in the CDC containment guidelines. The guidelines were either not followed, or not sufficient to protect those caring for patients. CNN explains what might have caused the contamination that led to the nurses’ exposure:
One of those affected is Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital nurse Briana Aguirre. She said Thursday that the Dallas hospital didn’t give her proper gear while she cared for Pham, even though it was more than a week into the Ebola response there.
Aguirre told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that the gear she was given — when she cared for Pham for one day — included a Tyvex suit, gloves and booties that covered most of her body, but not her neck.
“I just told them, ‘Why would an area so close to my mouth and my nose … be exposed?’ ” Aguirre told Cooper. “And they didn’t have an answer.”
She said she asked supervisors about new gear and was told it had been ordered. But she said the better equipment should have been procured more quickly, and raised concerns for her colleagues who were more involved in Ebola care.
“I just know that the (two) nurses that have been infected, they were dealing with the same equipment while they were dealing with so much more than I dealt with personally,” she said. “They put their lives on the line and without the proper equipment.”
3. A nurse was explicitly allowed to fly after being exposed to Duncan with a 99.5 temperature. She later came down with the disease. USA Today reports,
The second Dallas nurse diagnosed with Ebola shouldn’t have traveled on a commercial flight due to her exposure to the virus prior to her diagnosis, said Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
But the CDC has now confirmed that it gave Amber Vinson permission to make a trip to Cleveland.
4. Another woman potentially exposed to Ebola was allowed to travel on an international cruise ship making stops in Belize and Mexico. The New York Times highlights the CDC’s role in her trip,
Carnival officials said the hospital worker’s movements had not been restricted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention when she boarded the cruise ship on Oct. 12. But the C.D.C. put her and other health care workers on a more active watch regimen, and on Wednesday federal officials asked that the cruise line’s medical team monitor the woman.
The CDC’s ability to contain other deadly infections diseases (like smallpox) is a well-documented failure. With a disease of the magnitude of Ebola, many, including myself, hoped that the would be more precautions and care taken to prevent a further spread of the disease. It’s encouraging that the two nurses infected by Duncan have been transported to hospitals more capable of containing the spread, however, the actions of the CDC have endangered the lives of countless Americans in the meantime.
Do you think the CDC is capable of containing an outbreak of Ebola?