Politics & Policy

Keep Ebola Out of America

A hazmat crew at the Texas apartment of Ebola victim Thomas Eric Duncan (Joe Radle/Getty Images)
Let’s treat victims abroad before letting them back into the country.

As the Ebola infection rate and death toll continue to rise rapidly on the African continent, many of us have become complacent with the measures we have taken to protect Americans from this deadly disease.

Other nations, such as England, have gone so far as to ban flights bound from the affected regions of Africa. The Centers for Disease Control and various infectious-disease specialists have done a yeoman’s job in their efforts to prevent infected individuals in our country from contaminating others. They have put excellent protocols in place that would virtually guarantee complete safety. Unfortunately, all of those valiant efforts cannot preclude human error, which remains an ever-present danger, regardless of intellect.

For this reason, I and many others are not comfortable with the idea of bringing infected individuals into our midst when we can readily treat them elsewhere and happily receive them back once the infectious danger has passed.

When one does a logical benefit-to-risk analysis, it is clear that the worst things that could happen by intentionally bringing this dangerous disease to America are far worse than the best things that could happen. Some say if we bring infected individuals here, it will accelerate research endeavors and a potential cure or effective vaccination. Others say that not bringing infected citizens back demonstrates an insensitivity toward wonderful people who risk their lives for others. I am sympathetic to these arguments, and if we did not have safer alternatives, they would convince me.

Perhaps we should be concentrating on stopping the spread of Ebola in Africa and eradicating it from Earth. Like the war on terrorism, we should fight it elsewhere to decrease the likelihood of needing to fight it here. African lives are every bit as valuable as lives in America or anywhere else, and this humanitarian crisis has enormous health implications for the whole world. If, as some officials say, bringing infected individuals back here expedites the acquisition of knowledge that could lead to a cure, as all components of the disease can be more carefully studied, why not transport more researchers and facilities to the heart of the epidemic and dramatically accelerate the process?

I have no desire to induce panic, but we must realize that some viruses are known to undergo mutations that make them even more virulent. If the Ebola virus becomes even more pathologic, the ensuing panic and destruction of human life could go far beyond what is currently being acknowledged. This means there is some urgency to getting the outbreak in Africa under control.

The point is: This is an extremely dangerous disease with the potential to spread throughout several African countries and, subsequently, into other parts of the world, including the United States. Most crises prompt warnings that, if heeded and acted upon, can avert disaster. On the other hand, if arrogance and mistakes characterize the response, horrendous results are likely to ensue.

If we stop trying to prove we are right — whatever our opinions are — and instead concentrate our efforts on halting the spread of the disease where it is concentrated and finding a cure, perhaps we can avert needless panic and death throughout Africa, America, and the world.

— Ben Carson is professor emeritus of neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins University and author of the new book One Nation: What We Can All Do to Save America’s Future. © 2014 The Washington Times. Distributed by Creators.com

Most Popular

National Security & Defense

Jared Kushner Was Right

Over the past several years, a new certainty was added to death and taxes: Jared Kushner would fail in his role as the administration’s Middle East point man. It caused considerable merriment among President Donald Trump’s critics (and even some of his well-wishers) when he put his son-in-law in charge of ... Read More
National Security & Defense

Jared Kushner Was Right

Over the past several years, a new certainty was added to death and taxes: Jared Kushner would fail in his role as the administration’s Middle East point man. It caused considerable merriment among President Donald Trump’s critics (and even some of his well-wishers) when he put his son-in-law in charge of ... Read More

The Secret Life of Joe Biden

In a classic episode of Seinfeld, Jerry is accused by his new girlfriend, a police officer, of being a fan of the tacky 1990s soap opera Melrose Place. When Jerry lies and denies it, she suggests putting him on a polygraph to find the truth. In an effort to beat the machine, Jerry seeks the advice of his ... Read More

The Secret Life of Joe Biden

In a classic episode of Seinfeld, Jerry is accused by his new girlfriend, a police officer, of being a fan of the tacky 1990s soap opera Melrose Place. When Jerry lies and denies it, she suggests putting him on a polygraph to find the truth. In an effort to beat the machine, Jerry seeks the advice of his ... Read More

The Consequences of Biden

If you have decided that another four years of Donald Trump would be intolerable, and the prospect of four more years of the dysfunctional Trump circus in the White House fills you with dread, fine. But approach the prospects of a Joe Biden presidency with clear eyes and no illusions. Electing Biden would move ... Read More

The Consequences of Biden

If you have decided that another four years of Donald Trump would be intolerable, and the prospect of four more years of the dysfunctional Trump circus in the White House fills you with dread, fine. But approach the prospects of a Joe Biden presidency with clear eyes and no illusions. Electing Biden would move ... Read More
Media

How American Journalism Died

In 2017, the liberal Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy at Harvard University found that 93 percent of CNN’s coverage of the Trump administration was negative. The center found similarly negative Trump coverage at other major news outlets. The election year 2020 has only accelerated ... Read More
Media

How American Journalism Died

In 2017, the liberal Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy at Harvard University found that 93 percent of CNN’s coverage of the Trump administration was negative. The center found similarly negative Trump coverage at other major news outlets. The election year 2020 has only accelerated ... Read More

The Last Days of Robin Williams

After Robin Williams hanged himself in 2014, the media speculated that financial troubles or depression related to drug or alcohol use might have been the cause. Without discussing those topics, Williams’s widow, Susan Schneider Williams, is eager to set the record straight and does so in Robin’s Wish, a ... Read More

The Last Days of Robin Williams

After Robin Williams hanged himself in 2014, the media speculated that financial troubles or depression related to drug or alcohol use might have been the cause. Without discussing those topics, Williams’s widow, Susan Schneider Williams, is eager to set the record straight and does so in Robin’s Wish, a ... Read More

In Praise of Trade School

About a decade ago, I participated in a discussion hosted by the chamber of commerce in a university town about state policies regarding higher education. I’ll never forget the first comment I got from one of the attendees. “The problem with your presentation,” she said, “is that it didn’t focus ... Read More

In Praise of Trade School

About a decade ago, I participated in a discussion hosted by the chamber of commerce in a university town about state policies regarding higher education. I’ll never forget the first comment I got from one of the attendees. “The problem with your presentation,” she said, “is that it didn’t focus ... Read More