It can be as subtle as a bike ride through Maine on a brisk fall morning while the leaves are turning and burning colors all around. In this case, it was a bike ride, a boyfriend, a state trooper, and a whole bunch of media, because this activist and hero was Kaci Hickox, the nurse from the tent in New Jersey.
“There is no legal action against me, so I’m free to go on a bike ride in my home town.” ~~ Kaci Hickox
As we are you sure you remember, nurse Hickox was released earlier this week from that weird tent Governor Christie put her in in New Jersey, and allowed to return home to Maine. Despite having a state trooper stationed outside her home, and the fact that Maine’s Governor is looking into a court order to force her to stay in, she is not under any legal obligation to stay indoors at this time.
“I don’t want her within 3 feet of anybody. I am going to use the legal provisions to the fullest extent that the laws allow me, and I just hope she recognizes that. Let’s just get to November 10th, and then she can do whatever she likes.” ~~ Gov. Paul LaPage
Can Kaci be arrested for leaving the house? Well, the state and the federal government do have the authority, but that authority is not all reaching, and at this time, they haven’t really used that authority. The science has to support whatever actions are taken. That’s what the courts will look at. And the science is clear. It is not airborne. And with Kaci running no fever at all, she’s doesn’t have Ebola. Remember, Thomas Eric Duncan was posted up in his apartment for four days with his girlfriend and relatives who LIVED with him, and no one developed symptoms.
Unnecessary quarantines, and over reaching isolations, are a civil liberties issue, and the very act stigmatizes our much needed brave and heroic health workers. It’s a bad idea all around. Civil rights are supported by the Constitution of the United States, so when you don’t have the facts, or the science, that backs up quarantine for low risk, or no risk, patients, people need to CALM DOWN.
When the other kid’s parents are around tomorrow, Halloween, and while the kids are out collecting candy, and you guys get to talking, just remember what you know. We only have one patient at this time in United States, and everyone who has contracted Ebola in the U.S. has recovered.
Meanwhile, Back In Africa
On the other side of the pond, they are also watching these quarantine guidelines popping up haphazardly, state by state. They understand our fear. They’ve been afraid for some time now.
The US Navy set up a mobile lab in Liberia that really started to help turn the tide. Facilities in that mobile lab decreased the wait time for Ebola test results from 6 days to 4 hours. Those test results will typically be taken back on a bumpy SUV drive inland to one of the clinics that are set up around the West African region.
It isn’t unusual to see as many as 10 American doctors at any of these clinics. And Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power has been everywhere coordinating the American response on the continent, reportedly getting 3 -4 hours sleep a night. So, long before we put boots on the ground to help build new facilities, we had medical boots on the ground saving lives, embodying the real meaning of Johnny-On-The-Spot. It isn’t that easy to get these clinics staffed, and with the new American quarantine threats, we might get behind as quickly as we’ve gotten ahead.
Talk about tracking
Two weeks ago, The World Health Organization (WHO), announced Mali was Ebola free. Is Ebola In Mali Now? It was confirmed last week by the WHO that a 2-year-old girl in Western Mali had contracted the disease. The 2 year old’s grandmother told the doctor they had just returned from neighboring Guinea, where the girl had been staying with her father before he died of Ebola. Reports are that the toddler exhibited symptoms, and had a nosebleed, as she and her grandmother made the 600-mile journey from Guinea to Kayes, via the Malian capital, Bamako, on public buses. This does not bode well. The child died after two days in the hospital, just hours after the diagnosis came in. Yes, the test results took 2 days to process.
In the early hours of Friday, about halfway between the two cities, the bus was spotted.
“They literally chased down the bus, made the passengers get out, and disinfected the whole vehicle in the middle of the road,” says Shannon Strother of Unicef.
In the meantime, the job of tracing the girl’s route, and working out how many people she may have come into contact with, has begun. By visiting the villages and towns through which the girl and her grandmother had passed, health workers have so far identified dozens of possible contacts.
“From the passenger list, where people had put down their phone numbers, we were able to identify and track all the people travelling on the bus,” says Dr Lamine Diarra at the health ministry in Bamako, adding, “The hunt’s been complicated by the fact that in parts of Mali, a whole village shares the same Sim card.”
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 116 people in Mali are now being held under observation for the disease. How important is tracking? It’s everything. Xerox’s Maven software was configured to provide contact tracing for Ebola, and other communicable diseases. In the absence of a vaccine, contact tracing – analyzing who is at risk from contact with an infected person – is one of the most important tools available to prevent widespread outbreaks like Ebola. Maven has been deployed in public health agencies in 12 U.S. jurisdictions, and two states in Australia. What is really needed, however, is a system that can be used worldwide.
“Right now, the Ebola outbreak is a major global problem that requires our best thinking and resources. Health organizations of all kinds need technology to manage the identification, and diagnosis, of those who may have come into contact with an infected person. It’s this level of vigilance that will help stem the outbreak,” said Dave Amoriell, Xerox’s Public Sector COO, adding,“Maven is now available quickly and securely through the Xerox cloud.”
In Nairobi, developers announced Monday a “new mobile telephone based mapping service has been created in a bid to track Ebola, and better help communities hit by the virus in west Africa.” The system, a collaboration between technology giant IBM, mobile telephone companies, and academics, allows people in affected areas to send free text messages about Ebola to track problems and trends, with the program mapping the exact location from where it is sent.
“It has already brought to light specific regions with growing numbers of suspected Ebola cases which require urgent supplies like soap and electricity, as well as faster response times for body collection and burials. We saw the need to quickly develop a system to enable communities directly affected by Ebola to provide valuable insight about how to fight it. Using mobile technology, we have given them a voice and a channel to communicate their experiences directly” ~~ IBM Research Africa’s chief scientist Uyi Stewart
Tracking is what the CDC does in conjunction with the NIH, and it’s that vital work, literally tracking down all those who came in contact with any infectious patients, that will save the cheerleader, and save the world.
Stay with us daily as we report what we find, and vet what we can.