Follow up on Dr. Spencer…
From Medscape: “With African-derived Ebolavirus infection, there is an incubation period (typically 3-8 days in primary cases and slightly longer in secondary cases).” Various reports give the virus a latency of 3 – 21 days. Dr. Spencer’s exposure was the primary type.
He left Guinea on 10/14, and developed fever, followed by presentation to Bellevue ER in HAZMAT garb on 10/23, a period of 9 days. This was consistent with primary infection. Now Dr. Spencer has recovered and has been released from the hospital and quarantine, declaring, “Today I am healthy and no longer infectious.” That’s good news. But while we’re tossing the laurels…
Assuming that Spencer reported his fever as soon as it occurred, he did follow established protocols. “He said the established protocols for healthcare workers (twice daily monitoring of body temperature and self-quarantine if symptoms arise) returning from West Africa are what saved his life. “I am a living example of how those protocols work,” Spencer said.” NY Mayor Bill de Blasio said “Doctor Spencer did everything right”, referring to the heat the borderless doc had taken for rambling around the city after returning. Which begs the question Mr. Mayor, why did he lie to police about his movements in the days preceding active symptoms?
Why do Doctors Without Borders and the CDC believe that casual contact is a high enough risk to necessitate full protective gear in country, but not after an individual has returned home the next day? With varying latency/incubation times, why is a more stringent quarantine protocol not in place for those returning to the general public? Why would not Spencer – the owner of a master’s degree in public health – push for tougher quarantine protocols consistent with the incubation period to better reassure the public that an African virus would make no further appearance here?
It is expected that a red-ribbon leftist like New York Mayor de Blasio would not only try to make political hay, but use this case for gratuitous photo-op moralizing: “Doctor Spencer is Ebola-free, and New York City is Ebola-free… “It’s a good feeling to hug a hero.” And then de Blasio just had to add, “”You never discriminate against someone that’s helping others,” said the mayor, adding that “no one should be stigmatized based on where they come from. That is an un-American act.”
Morgan Dixon, Spencer’s fiancée tested positive for Ebola shortly thereafter, and was released from the hospital for a home quarantine until 11/14. Since Dr. Spencer’s actions declared that Ebola is not spread by casual contact in the western hemisphere, why should poor Ms. Dixon have to suffer the indignity of virtual house arrest in the absence of fever? No doubt she had supported Dr. Spencer the Hero, so isn’t it un-American to discriminate against her?
While I don’t think we should give in to hysteria and overreact to this virus (never did), neither should we be stupid regarding a serious contagion while misdiagnosing a “hero.”