There has been a surge of concern about bringing to the United States the aid workers who contracted Ebola. Here are five reasons we should bring them home:
Our best current information is that prevention involves avoiding contaminated bodily fluids and soiled clothing. But we can learn more- what is the best way to decontaminate infected clothing – is it bleach, is it UV light, is it fire? Those of us who remember when AIDS first came to light remember the concerns about that virus- and now we know that casual contact does not lead to HIV transmission. This virus is the same way – because we need to know how to prevent the virus from spreading.
We need a better handle on the course of disease:
The course of disease and its stages need to be defined better. Our understanding of how the virus progresses is basic – and earlier diagnosis can save lives- if by nothing else than quarantine. Right now the stages of disease, as we know them, start as a cold symptom and lead to the development of hemorrhage (bleeding). Knowing the stages means we can potentially intervene earlier.
We need to learn to treat this virus:
In Western Africa the hospitals are primitive. They have some iv fluids, they have some blood products, but they do not have all of the modern medicine with diagnostic abilities we have. The best way to learn to treat this virus is in a modern medical facility, not a facility that has limited resources. Learning to treat this virus can save hundreds if not thousands of lives.
We need to learn the basic science of this virus:
The best place to learn about this virus is not in Western Africa. It is where we have the best tools to examine this virus- and that is in the United States. Be it the DNA structure, the protein, the changes in the mutations of the virus. The more we learn about the virus the better chance we have to come up with an effective vaccination, or anti-viral agents.
Where do you want this virus studied? Western Africa, or the CDC ? In Atlanta we have the best scientists, with the best equipment, under the best conditions, and if we need more minds it is pretty easy to get them to Atlanta.
We need information not fear:
As deadly as this virus is- we need information about it, and the best place to get that is in the best investigation facilities that can handle this, and that is in Atlanta. We need to put our fear in perspective: this virus has killed over 700 people since February, but in that time malaria has killed over 600,000 people, and whooping cough over 3000 people.
Its the right thing to do:
We don’t leave behind soldiers, we don’t leave behind doctors, we don’t leave behind people that we can treat better, or at least make more comfortable. Yes this is the sixth reason- but it is the most important.
I’m glad my fellow physician is back in the USA – and thankful to the fine people at Emory taking care of him.
Dr. Terry Simpson
Dr. Terry Simpson received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Chicago where he spent several years in the Kovler Viral Oncology laboratories doing genetic engineering. He found he liked people more than petri dishes, and received his MD. Dr. Simpson, a renowned weight loss surgeon, is a leading advocate of culinary medicine. A frequent contributor to media outlets discussing health related topics and advances in medicine, he is also a proud dad, husband, author, cook, and surgeon “in that order.” For media inquiries, please visit www.terrysimpson.com.