New Ebola screening is an epic failure

ebola screening

It certainly didn’t take long for that system to break down. On Wednesday, CDC Director Tom Frieden announced new screening for all passengers traveling from one of the nations with an active Ebola outbreak:

People arriving in the U.S. from Ebola-affected countries in West Africa will be actively monitored for symptoms for 21 days after they land. The new monitoring regime announced by Centers for Disease Control Director Tom Frieden on Wednesday is similar to the approach Nigeria used to contain an outbreak.

The protocols, Frieden said, would have more rapidly identified the Ebola symptoms of Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian man who was misdiagnosed during an initial visit to a Dallas hospital and eventually died. If the new CDC monitoring rules had been in place at the time, Frieden said, it “would have in all likelihood resulted in that first emergency department visit not resulting in [Duncan] being sent back home.”

The roughly 150 daily travelers coming to the U.S. from Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone are already screened when they board their flights and when they land. Now, at customs, those travelers will receive “care kits” from the CDC containing thermometers, instructions for taking and recording their temperatures in a log book, and a “distinctively colored card” that can be presented to health-care providers if symptoms develop.

How well will this system work? Not too well it turns out. Via CDC:

The patient has been notified of the test results and remains in isolation. The patient is currently at Bellevue Hospital in New York City. Bellevue Hospital is one of eight New York State hospitals that Governor Cuomo has designated to treat Ebola patients. A specially trained CDC team determined earlier this week that the hospital has been trained in proper protocols and is well prepared to treat Ebola patients.

Confirmation testing at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s laboratory will be done. The healthcare worker had returned through JFK Airport on Oct. 17 and participated in the enhanced screening for all returning travelers from these countries. He went through multiple layers of screening and did not have a fever or other symptoms of illness. The patient reported a fever to local health officials for the first time today. The patient was transported by a specially trained HAZ TAC unit wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to Bellevue. The New York City Health Department has interviewed the patient regarding …read more    

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