A man who flew from Liberia to Dallas has been diagnosed with ebola. Kent Sepkowitz examines the precautions we’d taken:
The Dallas case is breaking some of our ironclad assumptions. The CDC has a well-considered algorithm that places those returning from the three endemic West Africa countries—Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia—into a measure of extra vigilance if and only if the person has had exposure to a known case of Ebola. Per the press conference, the Dallas case had no such exposure. He was not a health-care worker treating patients, nor was he from a family battling active disease. Of course, more facts may emerge that contradict today’s story—but today’s facts, if they hold up, mean that yesterday’s assumptions are no longer correct. Liberia may indeed be enough of a hotbed of Ebola that anyone arriving from the area will need to be considered for extra vigilance.
Ezra recommends taking the quiz above and calming down:
On average, Guinea spends $32 on health care per-person, per-year. Liberia spends $65. Nigeria spends $94. The United States spends $8,895.
That money buys trained health workers, disease investigators, isolation wards, fever screening, protective gear, and much more. That money buys advanced hospitals all across the country, and labs that can quickly test for the disease, and the ability to do contact tracing and follow-up visits on a tremendous scale. That money also buys public-health officials with long experience combatting infectious diseases — both here and in other countries.
Susannah Locke imagines best and worst case scenarios: