reports that health care workers who simply work for the same institutions that are treating Ebola patients are being stigmatized, in Atlanta, Omaha, Dallas--and New York City.
There hundreds of health care workers at Bellvue are being materially stigmatized, including nurses losing their second jobs, one lost a teaching position and one nurse's child has been thrown out of daycare--all for simply working at the same hospital where an Ebola patient is treated.
It doesn't help that early symptoms of Ebola are reportedly similar to the flu that is in fact the epidemic that is spreading in America, as it often does at this time of year. Here in far northern California, people reporting those symptoms are being told to get a flu shot.
One major victory over fear: a Maine judge rejected the governor's request for a court order to force Kaci Hickox, the Doctors Without Borders nurse and epidemologist, to continue her house arrest, otherwise known as quarantine. He did so in no uncertain terms, basing his decision on science.
But no one is taking Ebola lightly in all of this. Hickox is monitored daily for symptoms, such as fever. Ebola victims are only contagious when they show symptoms, and only through direct contact with bodily fluids.
The irrational fear, fed for political gain and money by politicians and media, is only obscuring the real dangers of Ebola, which are considerable. Stupid efforts need to be stopped, and more smart efforts begun and maintained. Not nearly enough is known about the disease or how to stop it spreading and mutating in the parts of the world with poor medical care where it thrives. If it is not controlled there it could become a much larger and more potent threat in the rest of the world.
Two recent articles in the New Yorker summarize the problems and the state of medical knowledge. The real Ebola Wars are being fought in laboratories and on the front lines in Africa, with contributions from what is being learned in treating the few patients in US hospitals.
The heroes of this war, who are putting themselves in harms way to save people and to accumulate knowledge that can save many more, are precisely these medical workers who are being stigmatized, and injured financially, socially and psychologically. It's time to grow up. And to revolt against the politicians and media institutions feeding this self-destructive hysteria.
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