Tablet Opinion

North Texas moves out of Ebola scare

Let’s hope we don’t ever go through another Ebola scare in North Texas. We are now fully aware of how fearsome the deadly virus really is.

Yet that awareness has been good for us. It has helped us get better at dealing with Ebola if it ever visits us again.

North Texas officially became Ebola-free on Friday when the last of 177 people being monitored because of their exposure moved out of the 21-day virus incubation period with no symptoms of sickness.

Thomas Eric Duncan, a 42-year-old visitor from Liberia, was diagnosed with the disease in Dallas on Sept. 30. He died Oct. 8 at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, the only death during the region’s Ebola scare.

Two nurses who helped treat him, Nina Pham and Amber Vinson, later became ill and tested positive for Ebola. They received prompt, specialized treatment and survived.

Scary as it is that someone brought the disease to North Texas from Ebola-ravaged West Africa and died here from it, and as serious as the threat was to Pham and Vinson, the numbers can been seen as encouraging.

Two healthcare workers out of the more than 70 who helped treat Duncan came down with the disease. We know now how to address shortcomings in their training and use of protective gear.

But about 68 health care workers who treated Duncan did not get ill, so some things went right.

Further, 177 people whose exposure was great enough to require monitoring did not get sick. That’s encouraging.

We know doctors at Presbyterian initially misdiagnosed Duncan on Sept. 24, when he showed up complaining of Ebola-like symptoms. It’s safe to say there is now heightened awareness of the disease across the U.S.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has acknowledged that its response to the Dallas Ebola case was lacking and should have included sending specialized teams sooner.

Texas has set up an infectious disease isolation and treatment center in Dallas, and Gov. Rick Perry has adopted reasonable guidelines for monitoring healthcare workers and others who return to Texas from helping treat Ebola victims elsewhere.

There’s reason to believe Ebola won’t catch us so unprepared again.

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