A real-life horror story is playing out in Africa as Ebola spreads, and President Obama’s decision to send 3,000 troops to Liberia to combat the virus could very well put Americans at risk of contracting the deadly illness at home, some health experts say.
According to the World Health Organization, at least 4,985 people have contracted Ebola and at least 2,461 have died. Several doctors have fallen ill with Ebola, and two of them have died. New reports indicate a Doctors Without Borders staff member has contracted the virus in Liberia and will be evacuated to France for treatment.
“You can see that these doctors, who are highly trained people, got themselves infected,” said Dr. Lee Hieb, former president of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. “So sending troops into an area, if they’re dealing one-on-one with a patient, they’re not going to be able to protect themselves very well. It’s not easy to [prevent transmission], because you get tired and you get careless and you make some simple mistakes. All it takes is one virus particle.”
Dr. Hieb said quarantine measures should be taken to control the outbreak and prevent Ebola from coming to America.
“You don’t get Ebola from Europe,” she told WND. “You get Ebola from Africa. And it’s a really simple formula: Don’t let people fly to America if they’ve been to areas where there’s an outbreak. When there’s an outbreak, stop air [traffic] flow.”
Hieb added, “If they’re going to use the troops to do population control, which is one of the ways you contain it, basically you just don’t let anybody out. You’d make a ring around where it is, and you’d quarantine the area.”
With quarantines in places where the outbreaks are occurring, even if a person infected with Ebola were to try to board a plane to the U.S., it would be far more difficult for them to make the journey, she explained.
“Could somebody sneak through by going to Pakistan or some place?” she asked. “Yes, potentially. Ebola comes on so rapidly, you would know it. They wouldn’t make it. We should not allow flights from nations that are having Ebola outbreaks.”
“What African troops are doing is shooting people who cross borders or violate quarantine,” Orient told WND, reacting to news of the U.S. troop deployment. “Is that what we plan to support?”
She added, “Africans are already very suspicious of us. How will they react to an army setting up hospitals?”
Orient called the planned U.S. deployment a “dubious mission,” warning that the nightmarish scenario could bring Ebola to America.
“There is definitely a risk,” she said. “It seems irresponsible to send more people there when the ones already there are having trouble leaving. Probably anyone who has been exposed should be quarantined for 25 days since the last exposure.”
Orient echoed the concerns of Elaine Donelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness, who told WND, “I’m just appalled. Judging from this, the United States seems to have a very confused vision of what ‘national security’ means.”
“But whether 3,000 American troops should be sent into that area of the world to deal with that problem, I do not see the justification,” Donelly said. “Surely there are alternatives in the international health-care networks.”
WND also reported when retired Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin charged that sending American troops to combat Ebola in Liberia is “an absolute misuse of the U.S. military.”
Donnelly emphasized it’s “not the purpose of our military.”
“I am very disappointed to see this announcement,” she said.
Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger appointed Donnelly to the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services for a three-year term from 1984 through 1986. Then, in 1992, President George H. W. Bush appointed her to the Presidential Commission on the Assignment of Women in the Armed Forces.
Donnelly explained to WND her concern that the U.S. military is not designed to fight health wars.
“Our military people will show compassion in Liberia, as they always do, and they will do everything asked of them,” she said.
“Still, health wars are unhealthy for soldiers and all living things. Like oxymoronic ‘peace wars,’ such as the incursion into Bosnia, deployments such as this put our troops in causes having little impact on America’s national security,” she said.
American military families will be put at greater risk, Donnelly warned.
“Here we have a ‘health war’ that could cost our troops’ health.”