It may have skipped your notice, but the United States is now Ebola-free. Dr. Craig Spencer was released from treatment in New York City Tuesday; that day also marked the end of the watch period for Kaci Hickox, the nurse force-quarantined in New Jersey and then allowed to go home to a remote town on the Maine border. The two nurses who treated deceased patient Thomas Duncan, Amber Vinson and Nina Pham, were both released from treatment two weeks ago. The health care workers who were sickened in Africa and came home for treatment have all gone home.
There are some things to note in these events. The first is that the Ebolanoia over the possibility of the disease spreading in the United States is now clearly shown to have been an over-reaction. No one got sick because Spencer went around New York City in the days before he developed symptoms. No one got sick, either, from contact with Kaci Hickox — and, an important point, she never developed symptoms herself. Her quarantine was self-evidently unnecessary. The only people to have contracted Ebola in the United States are the two nurses who were in close face-to-face contact with Duncan when he was floridly ill, and while the hospital that treated him, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, were working out the best protective protocols.
So we really could calm down now. (Have you noticed how the chatter has died down? Especially since the election?) But we also shouldn’t forget that Ebola continues in West Africa, and could return to the US at any time.
Here’s an example of the continuing challenges: the West African country of Mali.