Ambassador Samantha Power returns to the United States from her trip to Ebola-infected regions of West Africa and meetings in the EU earlier this week. Ambassador Power met in Brussels, Belgium and delivered remarks which are presented at this LINK.
However, we want to share the images Amb. Power posted up on her Twitter account on 10/31/2014 as she returned to the US. The images don't seem to coincide with the official stance of the CDC in terms of "personal protective" measures and equipment, and I will explain why below the images.
While many Americans are confused about what appropriate "Ebola Precautions" actually are, these images only reinforce that even those who are performing screenings don't have a firm grasp of what protective measures are necessary. Let me explain:
- Notice in the first image, the gentleman in black is wearing gloves while taking Ambassador Power's temperature. The use of gloves, while taking a non-invasive (forehead) temperature, is not necessary if we go along with the CDC guidelines. REASON: There is no need for actual contact with a person getting a forehead temperature reading. According to the CDC, Ebola can ONLY be contracted by an open wound, or contact with infected bodily fluids. The use of a thermal scanner / thermometer does not present a contact risk, as the person taking the temperature never touches the person getting scanned. If there is no skin contact, then why would we need to wear Nitryl / Latex gloves? If there is no risk of Ebola transmission without contact of a "Symptomatic" patient (i.e. a person who is visibly sick, WITH A FEVER, and the other symptoms of vomiting, diarrhea, headache, etc) then why is there a need for gloves on a non-invasive temperature scan? RED FLAG #1.
- Notice on the first image, that the gentleman taking the forehead temperature scan is also wearing a "surgical" style mask. This demonstrates an error in protocol or a misunderstanding of the current protocols because surgical style masks do not offer protection against airborne or droplets. If the person taking Amb. Power's temperature was concerned about droplets or airborne transmission, then a NIOSH approved N95 Respirator is the MINIMUM level of mask required. It appears in the second image, that the CBP officer doing the intake questions for Ms. Power is wearing an N95 particulate mask; however, there shouldn't be a need for him to be wearing one, as Ebola, according to the CDC, is NOT airborne, and is not able to be transmitted without contact. Additionally, the CBP officer is greater than 3-feet away from Amb. Power, and therefore, should not be at risk due to "distance" according to the CDC guidelines. Technically, there should be no reason for the wearing of an N95 mask at all, unless Amb. Power was SYMPTOMATIC WITH FEVER... in which case, she should be in immediate Quarantine. Given she is met with Reuters at 9AM this morning, I will assume that she had no fever, nor had symptoms. Therefore, the use of an N95 mask by the officer, or the woman sitting approximately 6 feet to the left of Ambassador Power is not needed. WHY IS THE WOMAN TO HER LEFT wearing one anyway? It seems to me, there IS a concern about airborne transmission based on these images. RED FLAG #2.
- In the second image, the CBP officer is utilizing either Nitryl or Latex gloves while writing, holding a clipboard, etc. There is no purpose for the use of gloves at all for non-patient care activities. In fact, this likely INCREASES the risk of disease transmission should he continue to wear the gloves. The reason being is that the officer will have a false sense of security due to wearing a glove-barrier, and may not wash his hands as frequently or appropriately, or will likely cross-contaminate other objects if he touches an item that is potentially infectious. Studies have shown that in EMS workers who continuously wear gloves doing non-patient care activities that infectious disease transmission increases. It is a bad practice to engage in, and unless the CBP officer was going to have direct-contact with Ambassador Power, there is no reason at all to be wearing gloves. RED FLAG #3