The BBC News is reporting the infection of a Spanish nurse after treating two people who were infected in Africa. Whereas there must be 100s of infections of healthcare workers already given the thousands of deaths what is concerning about this case is that the nurse worked at a specialist facility with strict procedures and modern resources.
“It could never happen here” I’ve heard said recently as Western countries show off their isolation units with plastic tents completely engulfing the contagious patients. Well I was already worried about that stance – I’ll have to research the number but I suspect theres only a handful of those types of units in each major city, so what do you do after the first person has been infected and you’re already monitory a dozen contacts? What when the next patient with advance symptoms turn up, and then the next? I’m not saying we’re 10 patients away from civil disobedience and people refusing to be isolated but I don’t believe it is quite such a clear distinction.
And of course that was before the Spanish mystery – hopefully this was a human error that allowed this unfortunate infection of a nurse who was no doubt told there was no risk at all to them. However if its turns out there is a new unknown transmission pathway then we’d all better lock ourselves in – and if Ebola mutates to become airborne it won’t just be the children playing ring a ring a roses.