The Washington Post is reporting that a man in Dallas who is being treated for ebola was in fact seen and released by the same hospital two days being admitted, despite his telling medical staff that he had recently come from Liberia.
Thomas Duncan, who has been confirmed as the first case of ebola diagnosed in the United States, at the time of his release had symptoms, which is the period when ebola is most contagious.
The Centers for Disease Control has issued national health guidelines to hospitals, doctors offices and other medical facilities regarding ebola. One of the guidelines is to determine whether a patient has recently been to a West Africa nation experiencing an ebola outbreak.
According to the Post, Duncan told a nurse he had just come from Liberia, but that person failed to inform other medical staff, resulting in Duncan being diagnosed with a common virus and sent home.
We have a system in place that is supposed to prevent things like ebola from becoming a larger problem. But like all systems, it only works if everybody does their job, which clearly was not the case in Dallas.
As Robert Burns wrote, “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men/Gang aft agley.”
It’s a bit like “Jurassic Park,” where all the precautions money could buy became irrelevant because someone turned off the power and let the T. rex out of its paddock.
News that at least five children were in contact with Duncan prompted panicked parents to take their kids out of school. At least 80 people at the time of this writing are being monitored for signs of ebola infection.
Although officials haven’t used the word “quarantine,” Duncan’s family has been ordered confined to its home for at least two weeks.
Airlines are now trying to locate hundreds of passengers who may have had contact with Duncan. United Airlines released a statement saying that Duncan had been on Flight 951 from Brussels Airport to Washington Dulles International Airport, then Flight 822 to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.
CBS reported that Duncan was also likely on Brussels Airlines Flight 1247. Belgian law bars the release of passenger information.
As of this morning, there were cases of possible ebola infection as far apart as Queens, New York, and Hawaii.
All along, officials ranging from doctors at the hospital to the CDC and the Texas governor have told the public there’s nothing to worry about.
Now don’t you feel better?