Quarantine Ebola Patients or Not Necessary?

The ebola virus has been making headlines for months now. It has managed to spread to other countries, including the United States and Spain. Although the numbers regarding the spread outside of Africa are not very big, that doesn’t help those who do contract it. One of the questions regarding the spread of this disease is whether or not people who have been in contact with patients who do have it should be placed in quarantine. This means they may face 21 days of being secluded from friends and family to ensure they are not carrying the virus.

There are many people who are against this policy, stating that it takes away certain freedoms. However, we must remember that this not like a common cold, it is a deadly infection that has already killed thousands of people. As a society we must give serious thought to the fine line between personal freedom and choice as it pertains to a virus that has killed over half of the people who have contracted it in Africa. Sometimes special rules must be put in place to help protect others.

Ebola is unable to spread to others unless a person is symptomatic. This means that if a person is not showing signs of illness, such as cough, fever, respiratory issues, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, then transmission isn’t possible. It is only through direct contact with bodily fluids that it can be transmitted. Hospital workers suit up so that no skin is visible, even wearing protective gear on their face and hair to ensure no fluids are able to penetrate to the skin. And in a controlled environment such as a hospital (especially one that follows the protocols set in place), this type of protection is usually quite effective. However, those of us out in public don’t have that capability.

One of the quickest and most effective ways to diagnose it is through blood tests. But these tests can only be given when a person becomes symptomatic. And by then, they have been around others who are at risk. Keeping people safe via quarantine might be the most simple yet effective way we have to prevent further transmission of this disease.