While these folks are "medical professionals" and should know better, they are also humans, and are subject to making mistakes and having bouts of poor judgement. ( Like the nurse from Dallas who boarded a plane, our friend from NY who decided to live it up while feeling a little crappy, and the other person who decided that it would be a good idea to board a cruise ship. )
I see no reason to use quotation marks around 'medical professional' in this case, because they are professionals - just not all trained to the same level, for the same situations. Comparing the nurse from Dallas with someone who worked in West Africa with Doctors Without Borders (MSF) strikes me as unfair, as the former may know very little about Ebola, while the latter probably knows a whole lot more about this disease.
And where did you find that "...who decided to live it up while feeling a little crappy..."? From everything I read the doctor in New York stayed at home from the moment he detected he had a fever, informed the relevant authorities, and kept himself away from other people till he was transported to hospital.
Everyone working with MSF has strict orders to check their temperature twice a day for three weeks after returning home from working with Ebola patients, and they are paid a salary during that 21 day self-monitoring phase so they do not have to go back to work, lowering the risk of them infecting anyone if they should actually come down with Ebola. That is far different from the situation of the nurse in Dallas.
And even if the first symptoms show, chances might be slim to none that someone actually infects someone during the first few hours (perhaps even the first few days). Ebola can only be spread by contact with bodily fluids, and that only gets really nasty when diarrhea and vomitting set in - which doesn't happen immediately. During the first few days of infection virus RNA levels are so low in humans that they are almost undetectable. Even if someone starts showing the first symptoms it may be a while before their ... "viral load" is high enough to infect anyone. Even sharing a home with someone may not be enough to spread the disease, according to the CDC
Several investigations have also demonstrated that persons residing in confined, shared spaces (e.g., homes), but who had no direct physical contact with these cases did not develop EVD
... Most of the people contracting it die. Pregnant women have a 100% chance of dying. A few people who have been diagnosed early and have had intensive treatment have recovered. I'd like to see people caring more about keeping the numbers down than worrying about their own comfort.
BM, may I ask where you found that 100% mortality rate for pregnant women? I haven't heard that before so I would like to read up on it.
Also, intensive treatment is not always necessary for recovery - or maybe it is and we just define "intensive treatment" differently. One of the aspects of Ebola that kills a lot of people is organ failure from massive fluid loss. Just keeping a patient hydrated and providing them with the nutrients they might lose through diarrhea and vomitting can bring the mortality rate down from somewhere between 70% and 90% to about 50%. That is still a lot, and it may take constant attention on the part of doctors or nurses, but but for a trained healthcare provider it's not rocket science and it can help a lot.
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Edit: I'll add in a bit more, concerning the point I made above about the risks of contagion: The European Centre for Disease Prevention an Control gives the following examples for "low-risk exposure" in their guidelines for contact management
> Casual or physical contact with a feverish but ambulant and self-caring EVD case (e.g. sharing a seating area or public transportation, including airplane transport; receptionist tasks; etc.)
> Close, face-to-face or physical contact with a case who is not coughing or vomiting.
> Household, classroom or office contact.
For those cases the only recommendation they make is self-monitoring twice a day for fever and other symptoms, with self-isolation and immediate notification of health authorities only if potential symptoms are detected. That very much seems to be the consensus between European health bodies, the CDC, and MSF as adequate for those who have only had casual contact with a patient.