Consider for a second what happens behind the scenes. We've seen the coverage of what has happened at the hospital in Dallas, where (at least) two staffers trained in how to avoid catching Ebola have now come down with it. In theory, these should be the people least likely to catch it - they have proper gear, are in an enclosed, controlled area, and have the CDC instructing them on procedure.
What about the "village" of folks that have dealt with the virus in Dallas, that don't have the same benefits as the hospital workers? The folks that remove the medical waste, scrubbed Duncan's apartment, transport the hazardous materials, etc. This piece in USA Today is a great testament how regular folks in Dallas rallied to help fill in gaps, and pitch in to solve some problems. It's the USA at its best - "can-do" attitudes, getting the job done, and being good neighbors.
But it also shows how quickly something like Ebola can spread, even in a Country where there is "no viable threat" of it spreading.
If hospitals workers, properly outfitted and trained have contracted the virus, what are the chances that the guy scrubbing an affected apartment could catch it? Could one of the barrels not have been completely cleaned on the outside? What is one of the barrels shifted during transport, and the lid opened slightly?
The TV show Scrubs offers a few illustrations:
It's the exponential factor at work that makes me nervous. One becomes two, two becomes four, four becomes several dozen in short order. Factor in how mobile our society is today, and how a single infected person can easily interact with others, and those "green hands" in the Scrubs scenes begin to play out and multiply.
Hopefully, Ebola is contained, and there will be no more cases here in the States, and those affected continue to improve, and survive.
In the meantime, wash your hands more frequently than usual.
The failure to prepare for emergencies can have devastating consequences. We learned that lesson the hard way after Hurricane Katrina. This nation must not be caught off-guard when faced with the prospect of an avian flu pandemic. The consequences are too high.
The flyways for migratory birds are well-established. We know that avian flu will likely hit the United States in a matter of time. With the regular flu season coming up shortly, conditions will be favorable for reassortment of the avian flu virus with the annual flu virus. Such reassortment could lead to a mutated virus that could be transmitted efficiently between humans, which is the last condition needed for pandemic flu.
The question is will we be ready when that happens? Let’s make sure that answer is yes. I urge my colleagues in the Senate and the House to push this Administration to take the action needed to prevent a catastrophe that we have not seen during our lifetimes.”
The current Ebola outbreak is significantly worse than H5N1 was. Where is that young Senator now, to hold this Administration's feet to the fire?