A former Food and Drug Administration chief scientist and top infectious disease specialist said that several people were exposed to the Ebola virus by the unidentified patient in Dallas, America’s first case, and it’s likely that many more will be infected.
Dr. Jesse L. Goodman, now a professor of medicine at Georgetown University Medical Center, said while the nation shouldn’t panic, it’s best to prepare for the worst.
“It is quite appropriate to be concerned on many fronts,” he said in a statement provided to Secrets. “First, it is a tragedy for the patient and family and, as well, a stress to contacts, health care workers and the community at large. Second, it appears several people were exposed before the individual was placed in isolation, and it is quite possible that one or more of his contacts will be infected,” he added.
What’s more, he conceded that it was “only a matter of time” that the swift-killing African virus arrived in the U.S.
“If anyone did not agree before, bringing the epidemic in Africa under control is an absolute emergency and requires a massive effort and global commitment now long overdue. This is a matter not just of preventing death and suffering in Africa, but, as this case brings home to the U.S., of global safety and security,” he warned.
He also strongly suggested that the one case will not be the end.
“While there is an expectation that this case, and likely future ones, can be contained, it is important not to be overconfident and to continuously, now and in the future, reexamine both how the virus is behaving and also the public health and medical response to see what can potentially be improved,” he said.
Like others in the medical field, Goodman asked why it is that the Ebola case wasn’t detected earlier and he demanded that testing protocols be reevaluated.
“It is critical for hospitals and health care workers everywhere to be sure they are alert, obtain travel histories and, if there is any question at all it could be Ebola, contact CDC and, while sorting things out, act to isolate a sick patient returning from an epidemic area,” he said.
Georgetown’s medical staff has been on high alert for Ebola, as have other local hospitals. What’s more, Georgetown University has been closely following the case because it has close to ties to many of the impacted countries and has educators who have traveled to the region.
Nonetheless, Goodman suggested that travel now be limited to the area.
“If less people traveled, risks may be reduced, and active follow-up and education of travelers could also be facilitated.”Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.