I woke up this morning to read on Twitter that a healthcare worker in Dallas had tested positive for Ebola. As I turned on the TV to watch Face the Nation, CDC chief Dr. Frieden stated “Infections only occur when there is a breach in protocol”. They seem to be focusing on how the PPE was removed, and some of the life saving procedures that were used to try and save the index patient, Mr. Duncan, such as dialysis and intubation. You can view that interview here.
Of course the Internet is awash with conspiracy theories and misinformation about Ebola, as I noticed when checking my Facebook and Twitter feeds. As I scrolled through some people’s posts and links, I was astounded by how little some people actually know about disease transmission, specifically when it comes to a highly infectious disease such as Ebola. Ebola is not airborne. The government has not engineered Ebola to control the population. (I really saw this on Facebook. Um, wow.) This article from the New York Times has a great quote from Dr. Clay Jenkins of Dallas County:
I think all healthcare workers, especially Nurses who are on Social Media, have a duty to help educate the public on this crisis. We need to be proactive and share factual, evidenced based information with the public on how Ebola is contracted, how it can be spread, and what the public can do to keep themselves safe. We need to help educate people who have misinformation about this deadly disease. Panic and hysteria doesn’t help anyone. I included some links at the end of this post that I have found useful to help spread the correct information. Look to your professional organizations for guidance and talking points as well. Most organizations today have websites and various other social media accounts, so they are are a good place to start. (And remember, don’t feed the internet trolls.)
All healthcare workers know the risks involved with caring for highly contagious patients such as Mr. Duncan. I have been a Nurse for 17 years, and in that time I have taken care of many patients with infectious diseases, although none of those diseases were as deadly as Ebola. I won’t deny that my heart sunk when I heard the news this AM, and I immediately wondered if the healthcare worker was a nurse. Nurses spend a lot of time with their patients in ICU, especially when they are in isolation as Mr. Duncan was. I’m sad for Mr. Duncan and his family, and I am worried about this new patient and his/her family.