Should Ebola patients be treated in the United States?

On Saturday, Dr. Kent Brantly, one of two American aid workers infected with the Ebola virus, returned to the United States. Brantly landed at Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Georgia and was transported via ambulance to Emory University Hospital, where he will be treated. As the Associated Press reported, this marks the first time a person infected with Ebola – an incurable, deadly virus – has been brought to the U.S.

While the Center for Disease Control has maintained the Atlanta hospital and its workers are equipped to handle the patients, on radio this morning, Glenn, Pat, and Stu debated whether or not it was wise to return Brantly and his compatriot to the U.S.

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Glenn explained he has “huge respect” for the Brantly, who contracted the virus while he was in Africa treating Ebola patients. At the same time, Glenn wondered if the U.S. could have sent the necessary treatment to Brantly in Africa, instead of returning him to the U.S.

“I hate to go back to this Ebola thing and I really have respect for the guy,” Glenn said. “But I’m just saying: Do we need more logs on the fire… We have the resources to bring everything that they would possibly need to them… Fly a C-131 transport plane. Get it over there. Put all your equipment in it. You don’t need to be treated in an American hospital. We’ll bring the hospital to you.”

Stu, however, was not convinced.

“I would assume there are time constraints on that one. It’s not ready to go right now. There’s a facility [in the U.S.] ready to go. There are a few that can treat this sort of thing,” Stu countered. “Supposedly the treatment is already helping. What are we going to do? Let this guy go over there and let him die? You have to take precautions realizing this is an awful disease, but we should be able to seal up one guy and fly him over here. It should not be impossible.”

While Stu’s logic sounds reasonable, you may recall the CDC admitted just last month that it had discovered six vials of smallpox at a Food and Drug Administration storage facility in Maryland. This blunder followed a June report in which 80 CDC workers were accidently exposed to anthrax in a laboratory. The recent errors gave Glenn pause.

“You’re talking about bringing him into a major population center,” Glenn said of Brantly. “Wasn’t it about a month ago… there was something lost? You’re saying to me, ‘You know, Glenn, it seems like we should be able to…’ Yes, we should. But…”

Ultimately, Stu found himself feeling like that guy in the movies who tells everyone ‘everything is going to be fine’ before half the population ends up dying of some incurable disease.

“We were having that serious conversation about Ebola,” Stu concluded. “And I’m the idiot in the movie who said, ‘No, we should be able to seal the frickin’ guy off. What’s the big deal? Nothing is going to happen.’”

Front page image courtesy of the AP