There is some good news today for Dallas nurse Nina Pham. The 26-year-old has Ebola, but has released a statement in which she says that she is “doing well.” She received a blood transfusion from Dr. Kent Brantly, the American missionary who contracted Ebola but survived it. Brantly survived in part thanks to a blood transfusion that he got from a fellow Ebola survivor. The blood of Ebola survivors has antibodies in it that fight the deadly virus, which kills about 70% of its victims.
There is also bad news. Pham’s boyfriend works at Alcon in Fort Worth, Texas. The CEO of Alcon, Jeff George, sent out an email today to all employees. The email says that an Alcon employee, Pham’s boyfriend, is now in isolation and is being monitored for Ebola symptoms.
According to the emailed note, the Alcon employee was admitted to the hospital on Sunday and is being monitored for Ebola symptoms. However, the man has not shown any signs of being sick. The name of the Alcon worker was not released.
The email also said that, after consulting with state health officials, Alcon is confident that no other employees were ever put at risk.
Isolating him is precautionary, but it highlights the fact that the potential for the virus to spread is great, to anyone who has had contact with Pham and any of the other healthcare workers who provided care to Thomas Eric Duncan — and anyone else who had contact with him once his symptoms appeared.
Ebola patients — not to be graphic here — erupt at both ends once symptoms appear. The fluids that emanate from them carry death. Pham’s case demonstrates clearly that our hospitals are not ready for Ebola, despite the CDC’s bland promises otherwise. The United States still has just four Ebola-ready hospitals, and the airport screening for fever is nothing more than Ebola screening theater.