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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Dropping the Ball: The [Not So] Good News on Ebola

And now, the not-so-good news about ebola.
Just about two days ago I posted this recap of some of the news around the latest ebola outbreak.
My post centered mostly on three things: One, the fact that people infected can be cured; two, the rather thoughtful-and-not-at-all-panicky public reaction to the issue; and three, the hope that this reaction might lead to avoiding the shameful way people reacted to the AIDS scare in the 80s.
I wrote that barely a couple of days after a previous one, in another blog of mine, deploring the overtly emotional reaction among some people to the news about the death of Excalibur, the mascot of Spanish health worker Teresa Romero.
The dog, euthanized in Madrid by the government shortly after the reports that Romero had become the first case of contagion with ebola outside of Africa, became something of a cause in the social networks.
Screenshot of live TV news report
Breaking news, at the local and national level
So much so that after official confirmation of the first case of transmission of the virus in the United States, lots of emphasis was placed on the fact that unlike Excalibur, the pet belonging to nurse Nina Pham would not be destroyed in Dallas.
It is not a matter, I said at the end of last week, of pretending to keep anybody quiet or of trying to control people’s emotions.

“To cry out because a dog has been euthanized without regretting the negligence, missteps and mistakes around this tragedy, that has Madrid on the main stage, while at the same time disregarding — that’s about the only possible conclusion one can derive — that what is happening poses a threat to tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands, if not millions of human beings, is totally preposterous,” I said then.
There is a measure of heroism in the way medical healthcare personnel, both in Spain and the United States, have reacted to the demands placed on them by the ebola outbreak.
In Madrid, as narrated by a Romero spokesperson in this article published Wednesday by the daily ABC, the nurse has been quoted as saying that she’d not hesitate to provide care again for another ebola victim: “Now I have the [ebola] antibodies, nothing to worry about,” Romero told her husband, according to the report.
In Dallas, nurses at the hospital where the two new cases of contagion with ebola have been confirmed, denounced what the New York Daily News called “an astonishing series of failures” around the case.
The press conference subject of that story happened just a few hours after the confirmation of the second case of a nurse testing positive for ebola, and the later reports that she boarded commercial flights from Dallas to Cleveland, and back, despite being one of the at-risk healthcare workers.
Want to worry about something?
Look at what the healthcare authorities are doing to manage the outbreak. They are, to put it mildly, dropping the ball.

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