American Ebola Confirmed – No Big Deal, Says CDC

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Dallas is the home of patient zero when it comes to Ebola in the United States, an inevitable development that our government said was anything but. According to reports, the patient – who has yet to be publicly identified – was returning from a trip to Liberia where he picked up the deadly virus. The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was quick to get out in front of the microphones to prevent a public panic.

“There is no doubt in my mind that we will stop it here,” Tom Frieden said in a press conference Tuesday. He elaborated on the investigation currently taking place wherein health officials are tracking down everyone the patient may have come into contact with to ensure the outbreak doesn’t spread. Frieden emphasized that Ebola can only spread from people who are displaying symptoms, meaning that others on the flight should not be of any concern. The patient didn’t develop symptoms until four days after he returned home.

It’s a decidedly “no big deal” response from one of the top health officials in the country, but should Americans be wary? Let’s not forget that it was only a couple of weeks ago that President Obama assured the public that the chances of an Ebola outbreak in the U.S. were “extremely low.” While one infected citizen is not an outbreak, should we be concerned that the government isn’t telling us everything?

Consider this report out of Atlanta just a day before the first American Ebola patient was confirmed. CBS46 confirmed that the CDC sent a three page report to funeral homes around the country, detailing the proper federal guidelines for handling the remains of Ebola patients. If the chances of an American outbreak were “extremely low,” why would the CDC send out such a report?

In September, the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general sent out a blistering report warning that the DHS was unprepared for a pandemic, stocked with expired medications and insufficient resources with which to arm their first responders.

Then there is the problem at the border, where concerns have been raised about the capability of agents to properly screen illegal immigrants for disease.

There are no firm indications that the government is intentionally misleading us when it comes to the probability of an Ebola outbreak, but there are hints and minor warnings. Naturally, sounding the alarm bells brings about its own public health hazards. A national panic could do a great deal of harm, especially if it’s out of proportion with the threat.

Still, it’s worth remembering that our government is not above lying to the American people about these things. Our inadequate response to Ebola in West Africa has demonstrated how far behind we are when it comes to this particular outbreak. With even the best scientists in the country admitting that they don’t know what has made this outbreak so virulent and unstoppable, can we trust the CDC when they say there’s nothing to worry about?

Maybe, but it might be worth investing in a pack of surgical masks…just in case.