How would you like to be the ambulance driver who took the doctor who has Ebola to the hospital in Nebraska? Or the health care workers who will look after him? The Ebola virus is a Risk Group 4 Pathogen. It requires BioSafety Level 4-equivalent Containment. That means you use positive pressure personnel suits, multiple showers on entry and exit to any area where the virus is contained, There is a segregated air supply, a vacuum room, an ultraviolet light room and other precautions. The Ebola virus is often fatal and there is no known vaccine. Almost 2,000 people have died in the recent outbreak in Liberia and other parts of West Africa, but that didn’t stop Dr. Rick Sacra from heading there to help deliver babies after having heard that two other missionaries had become ill. So now he lays in a special isolation ward in a Nebraska hospital infected with a deadly virus that he knew was ravaging people in an outbreak in the area he deliberately visited.

Maybe what is being done with Dr. Sacras is the most rational way to control the outbreak of the deadly virus, but one wonders what the total cost will be and what the risk is to anyone along Dr. Sacra’s travel route to that Nebraska Hospital as well as the people in the vicinity of that hospital. How many millions will have to be spent? But at least this way, it is done in the open, and that does allow a rigorous control. One can also assume that Dr. Sacra is now the latest guinea pig in the desperate search for a cure. He will be studied carefully and his agonizing journey of sickness may provide cold hard data that will help, someday, to arrive at a vaccine. Did this have to be done smack in the middle of the USA? Places like Guantanamo Bay, for example, could provide an isolated location where the disease can be studied under secure conditions. There of course are multiple security concerns. The ability to isolate and reproduce the ebola virus is something terrorists – ISIS and al Qaeda for example – would love to be able to do to unleash their hatred on the rest of the world, and America in particular. So keeping Dr. Sacras safe from others as well as others safe from him seems to be the deadly balancing act that is being done right now in the heart of the US.

Did he have to go? No, of course not. It was an act of defiant charity, of a “we´re all in this together” ideology taken to it’s most dangerous limit. Almost any hint of discrimination against anyone because of possible diseases – even fatal ones like ebola – is seen as infringing on the rights of the diseased to circulate and live freely, according to this view. Nigeria’s President Jonathan complained of discrimination to UN special envoy David Navararo after Nigeria’s team was forced to abandon it’s participation in the Youth Olympics in China because of fears of the disease spreading from Nigeria to China. It is almost impossible to hear the word “quarantine” issue from the lips of any politician almost anywhere because of the worries of the optics of such a call. It goes without saying that deadly infectious diseases like Ebola do not discriminate; and that is precisely why quarantine – however we call it – must be part of the responses available to contain any outbreak that threatens lives from villagers in Liberia to ambulance drivers in Nebraska. We cannot simply assume that diseases will inevitably reach across the globe, a reasonably rigorous policy of containment must be done with no shame on anyone’s part. It is in the interests of all, as the best medical minds continue to try and find a cure. Dr. Sacras is not one of them.

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