Reflections on Ebola in the USA

We are primed for a pandemic. Television is happy to entertain us with all the details of previous pandemics from the Plague to the Flue of 1918. We love reading books like Stephen King’s The Stand , Richard Matheson’s I am Legend, Michael Crichton’s The Andromeda Strain, and Daniel Kalla’s Pandemic. Our children play games like Plants versus Zombies. Preppers are stockpiling food and ammo so they can stay holed up until the danger is past. We are ready for the zombie apocalypse. We know how a pandemic can grow, and the danger we are in.

When Ebola infected aid workers Dr. Kent Brantly, 59, and Nancy Writebol, 33, were brought home for treatment, most of their fellow Americans were fearful, not trusting of the scientists and medical people transporting and caring for the sick. Ebola hemorrhagic fever has only a 10 percent survival rate, and is thought to be far to dangerous to be allowed to our shores no matter what precautions are taken. Fears eased, but did not disappear with their recovery. Polls suggested even after recovery, most members of the American public would not want to have any contact with the now healthy Ebola survivors.

But a greater test of the American medical system was just around the corner. Thomas Eric Duncan traveled from Liberia where the Ebola epidemic is raging to Dallas, Texas. While he had no symptoms when he landed, they soon developed. Going to a local hospital unprepared for such an event. Duncan was not held in quarantine, and was not tested. Duncan was sent home, only to be admitted three days later. He is now dead, and his family and others he may have been in contact with are in quarantine. Dallas, and I am sure many in the US wait for the next case of Ebola.

There have been moments that have made me proud. Clay Jenkins, Dallas county judge, helped to find housing for Duncan’s family with the help of the faith-based community. He met with the family, who was symptom free, and drove them to their new home, and has kept the family updated on Duncan’s status. Jenkins has been criticized in social media and questioned by the traditional media about the wisdom of his actions. Jenkins followed sound science, and place his trust in God. That sounds like a winning combination.

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