Louisiana Blocks Ebola Scientists From Meeting in New Orleans in Latest Counterproductive Over-Reaction

The state of Louisiana has informed the organizers of a scientific conference that Ebola researchers who have recently returned from West Africa would not be permitted to travel to New Orleans for the conference—and would be quarantined if they showed up (official letter here). The group, the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, has protested the state’s action.

Could it become any more obvious that over-reaction to Ebola is undercutting actual efforts to stop the spread of the disease?

Face-to-face meetings of experts are a crucial part of any profession. They are where insights are shared, research is exchanged, and relationships are formed. As a group of scientific organizations wrote in a letter to government officials several years ago,

Participation in scientific conferences is a critical opportunity for scientists and engineers to keep current in rapidly changing fields of science and technology. These conferences facilitate communication among scientists, engineers, practitioners and students. They provide an important venue for presenting cutting-edge research.

Indeed, anthropologists studying the subject have found that face-to-face communications "are crucial for sustaining the social relationships that make distributed work possible."

Here we have a group of scientists who are professionally dedicated to learning more about Ebola, which must surely be a critical part of actually fighting the disease—and yet Louisiana is interfering with this vital scientific function. The state Department of Health and Hospitals statement actually concedes that “from a medical perspective, asymptomatic individuals are not at risk of exposing others.” Exactly. That should be the end of it. As the New England Journal of Medicine has written, with Ebola “we now know that fever precedes the contagious stage.” Let’s all repeat that together: Fever Precedes Contagiousness.

We know this, NEJM points out, not only from clinical observation in Africa but also from the extremely sensitive “PCR” DNA-detecting test that can detect even minute quantities of the virus in the blood stream of infected individuals. That test is “often negative on the day when fever or other symptoms begin and only becomes reliably positive 2 to 3 days after symptom onset,” as the NEJM writes.

But that’s not the end of it, unfortunately. The Louisiana letter continues, “however, the State is committed to preventing any unnecessary exposure of Ebola to the general public,” and goes on to state that anyone who has visited West Africa would be asked to “remain in a self-quarantine for the 21 days following their relevant travel history.” This is for “the protection of Louisiana residents and other visitors.” Any researchers who do show up, the state warns, will be “confined to your room.”

If, “from a medical perspective,” there is no “risk of exposing others,” as the state concedes, then why does it claim it’s for the protection of others?

The answer, obviously, is politics. In New Jersey, Maine, and elsewhere we have seen how politically driven over-reaction to Ebola has threatened to undercut the very battle against the disease, for example by stigmatizing and deterring health care workers from volunteering in the battle. But this latest move in Louisiana is an even clearer example of the problem.

From a local standpoint, as my colleagues at the ACLU of Louisiana point out to me, this step is particularly ironic because the oldest school of tropical medicine in the United States is in New Orleans, the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine at Tulane (which condemned the policy). To keep researchers on the tropical medical issue of our time away from the city with the only school devoted entirely to their study is especially sad.

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Anonymous paramedic

These STUPID-ass lawmakers need to STOP doing our job. They're disgustingly, outright STUPID about it, and I'm sick of laypersons doing whatever they f'n feel like and making things WORSE instead of better. Nine times out of ten a nonmedical person will make things way worse.
We had a call on Saturday night for a guy who was overdosing on heroin and the reporting party thought they were being so intelligent to not let anyone near the patient, even an off-duty EMT, when that behavior could have been the very reason the patient might have died.
Drug overdoses are so volatile in their nature that the patient could have deteriorated before we got there and would have needed someone who understands emergency medicine to look and make sure that didn't happen.
But no; the LAYperson who saw the victim start overdosing was giving orders all over the place and refused to let the off-duty medic even look at the patient.
I told him we have it from here but he never stopped hanging over us, watching every move we made. I wish I could've told him to get the hell lost and let us do our job free of his scrutiny.
It's not subtle at all: people die when laypersons start playing Little Ms. or Little Mr. Doctor and go so far as to start ordering people around.

One time the fact that four guys moved our patient - "to get him out of the way" - was exactly why the patient died. They had no idea what an Urgent Care move is so picked him up by arms and legs, a person to each limb, and dropped him unceremoniously on the far end of the lawn. He died bc he had a paroxysmal breathing and a flail chest. He died bc they dropped him instead of placing him on the ground and making sure he didn't fall onto it.

I can't emphasize enough times the importance of knowing what you're doing before actually attempting to do it. What you don't know can get someone killed and incite unnecessary panic.
And there's nothing I hate more than panicking people for no good reason.


I've been thinking about this for a year and a half but it appears that there's evidence of normalized multiple constitutional violations here in Shreveport, sadly by government officials in what looks like a ring. The evidence need no hunting. By the way the slave mentality still exists here -.-



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