Leave Medical Science to Qualified Doctors and Scientists, Please!4
October 27, 2014 by Chris Kite
So after assuring us that it was the right thing to do and that it had nothing to do with politics, the quarantined nurse in New Jersey has been release well ahead of her scheduled 21 day quarantine. Governor Christie faced significant pressure that what he was doing was not necessary, not helpful, a violation of this person’s rights, and in fact, very unhelpful. He relented.
I’ve not heard whether the requirement has gone away, or if this is a one time exception. I’ve also not heard when Democratically led New York and Illinois have changed their rules.
But it is clear evidence of a knee jerk reaction that was for political/popular reasons. It was declared unnecessary by scientists and doctors. The fact that it was so quickly ended once the firestorm started looks like a pretty good indication to me of the political nature of this new rule.
Please! Let’s leave medicine and science to those that have spent years studying medicine and science!
I don’t think it was political expediency and I don’t think we should throw out our own critical thinking caps. After all, medicine and science have been wrong on ALOT of stuff ALOT of the time through the ages. Who wants to have the medical community come back after several innocent folks are secondarily exposed to Ebola in the community and them say: Oops, sorry – we were wrong and the virus behaved in a way we didn’t expect.
Even scienctists behind “closed doors” are saying they know less about Ebola now than they did 6 months ago and even less the more they study it. A great talk this past week with virus researchers at Johns Hopkins and how to best communicate the uncertainty that is inherent, but has been reduced to talking points – for political expediency. For example, up to 20% or more of all Ebola patients never have fever. That’s just one of many examples provided.
On balance, a 21 day self quarantine is prudent. If I have to quarantine a rabies vaccinated indoor lap dog for 3 months to go from one state to another, I think a 21 day low pro serious self quarantine is acceptable.
That nurse has just been just a bit over the top & shrill about the whole thing. There aren’t many people who can really understand her point, except that she should have definitely had a much better, more private situation, and the government should reimburse for lost wages if they want folks to volunteer on the front lines.
I appreciated the male strippers – they self quarantined just to be safe and because they respect the public. I do think the public expects at least the same level of care and courtesy from health care workers who directly worked with Ebola patients. Since the past few health care workers have thrown cautious to the wind, so to speak and unfortunately, the states have had to formalize the approach to a greater degree. I assure you if the healthcare workers handled themselves like the strippers did, there would be no talk of formal quarantine.
Everyone is, of course, entitled to their opinion. But regardless of opinions, this virus has proven difficult to catch. If not ONE person that had casual contact with Mr Duncan, who was AT HOME AND BEING CARED FOR BY HIS FAMILY before heading back to the hospital, and not ONE person that came into contact with either nurse, out of the hundreds of people that came into contact with them, contracted the virus, I feel pretty sure the “experts” are correct.
But then again, I also happen to believe the experts on Global Climate Change and there are lots and lots of people saying that is not proven science.
As for the nurse being shrill. No. She was not. She acted appropriately. She was imprisoned without cause. That is a clear violation of her rights. And it was clearly a fear based policy being developed on the fly. Scan her forehead. It reads high. Quarantine! Negative test. Too bad! Quarantine!
It is wrong. No one was at risk.
The science is extraordinarily clear. It takes contact with the bodily fluids of someone that is infected AND showing symptoms. Period. Fact.
The doctor in New York was fatigued. He had just returned from Africa. Until he was running a fever he posed to risk. And even then, unless someone comes into direct contact with his bodily fluids, they were at no risk. Fact.
As I stated, there is always a margin of uncertainty (both substantively and statistically) in most disciplines and certainly, medicine and science are no exceptions. When men of science and infectious disease specialists speak candidly of the known and unknown risks associated with Ebola transmission and infectivity, they speak in those terms.
The talking points and sound bites are fine for government officials trying to interface with the un-informed and lay public.
If the military is intending to introduce a 21 day quarantine among soldiers who are going to West Africa just for logistical support, I think a 21 day self quarantine isn’t much to ask of health care workers.
I guess we just ought to agree to disagree on this fine point.
The Johns Hopkins conference is very enlightening. If I find the link, I’ll send it.
http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/pdf/infections-spread-by-air-or-droplets.pdf…[date of form is today.]