I volunteered to go to West Africa to help treat Ebola victims and help contain the spread of Ebola. I am prepared to take of 1-3 weeks to help out. Now with a mandatory quarantine of three weeks after returning from West Africa it means I would have to take off 4-6 weeks and I cannot afford to do that. I would have no objections to being closely monitored and to use precautions but I need to be able to work and care for my patients here while maintaining an income.
The science of Ebola and mode of transmission is well-understood. In order to become infected with Ebola an individual has to come in contact with the bodily fluids of an individual who is SICK ie fever, heavy perspiration, nausea, diarrhea, weakness, severe fatigue. An individual CANNOT contract Ebola from someone who is well, and especially not if they don’t come in contact with their bodily fluids i.e. saliva, blood, urine, semen, feces. So individuals CANNOT contract it from healthy health-care workers.
Though it is understandable that the public fears contracting Ebola from those who have been to West Africa, the answer to controlling the spread of Ebola is not by mandatory quarantine of health-care providers. As it has become a deterrent to me in my willingness to offer my medical help in West Africa, it must surely be a deterrent for other health-care providers. In conflict with this is the sad but absolutely true fact that in order to contain and eradicate Ebola and prevent it’s spread around the world, health-care providers are desperately needed in Ebola-stricken regions.
Furthermore, what is to happen to the health-care workers caring for Ebola patients here in the United States or even other parts of the world? Are these individuals to be quarantined as well? Will health-care providers here in the US be given the choice of whether or not to care for an Ebola patient? Giving a health-care provider the choice of who to care for would be unprecedented and raise major ethical questions. If we assume that health-care providers will take care of Ebola patients just as they would any other patients than those health-care providers exposed to Ebola would subsequently be out of circulation for 3 weeks, away from family and work and likely not earning a livelihood during that time. If we furthermore assume that numerous cases of Ebola will appear in the US even if not to the extent as in West Africa and we quarantine all the health-care providers caring for them than we may quickly deplete our pool of health-care providers who are able to care for patients other than those with Ebola.
Another solution must be utilized. The best solution is close, twice or thrice- daily monitoring of health-care providers who have come in contact with Ebola by a team of other health-care providers. It is in the best interest of the public and of the individual contracting Ebola to have the illness detected as soon as possible so that treatment can begin and spread of the disease prevented. This must be done in concert with extensive education of the public so that panic does not set in.
The public needs to understand, as well, that it is the health-care providers, who by caring for the sick and protecting the public are risking their own lives and tragically, indeed, many health-care providers have already given their lives in the battle against this terrible virus.