A Missouri physician is accusing the Centers for Disease Control of being “derelict in its duty,” saying the agency is not leveling with the public about the potential for Ebola to spread in the United States.
Dr. Gil Mobley says there has been a lack of planning on the CDC’s part to head off the spread of Ebola now that it has made its way to the U.S. through air travel.
“It’s reactionary. It’s not responsive,” he said, referring to the way the first case has been handled in Dallas, Texas.
Mobley, a microbiologist and board-certified trauma physician in Springfield, Missouri, gained notoriety Thursday when he showed up at the Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport in a hazmat suit with the words “CDC is lying!” across his back. He said he wanted to draw attention to what he sees as a disturbing lack of action by the CDC.
Mobley, who was back in Missouri Friday after returning from a medical mission trip in Guatemala, told WND he was not asked any questions upon re-entry into the country other than if he had alcohol or cigarettes.
“Yesterday on the front page of USA Today the CDC said we’re at a low risk because of our advanced healthcare and sanitary systems and because we are screening at airports,” he said. “Yet I had just come through Customs the day before, and they didn’t screen me.
“They didn’t ask me where I’d been, they didn’t ask me if I’d been sick, they didn’t ask me if I’d had a fever, and they didn’t thermo-scan for my temperature. That was two days ago.”
The Ebola outbreak in West Africa – the largest in the 40-year history of the virus – has infected 7,178 and killed 3,338, according to the World Health Organization.
A USA Today article Friday downplayed the potential for Ebola to spread widely in the U.S., citing infectious disease experts at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore and Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia, all of which said measles, influenza and norovirus were much bigger threats to human life in America.
Unlike those illnesses, Ebola cannot be spread through the air, and a person has to come in contact with bodily fluids such as blood, feces or vomit in order to catch the virus. Also, a person infected with Ebola is not contagious until symptoms show up, according to the experts, unlike the measles which can be contagious up to four days before symptoms emerge.
Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC, retweeted the USA Today article pooh-poohing the risks of Ebola Friday. The article asserts that the Ebola virus is “rare, difficult to transmit and kills fewer people than flu, measles.”
The article quotes a Baylor professor saying that if Ebola spread easily, “there would be millions of cases, not thousands” in Africa.
Still, Mobley finds it concerning that the disease has now entered a new stage in the U.S., that of potentially moving from person to person.
“We have a new dispensation now,” he told WND. “We can no longer rely just on where a person has traveled, on a simple travel history. That presents a terribly different predicament with the impending flu season.”
‘Hard to distinguish from flu’
Mobley is advising people to get a flu shot this year.
“I believe in flu shots more now than ever with the impending Ebola threat because if you run a fever they could slam you into an infectious disease center with other potential Ebola patients,” he said.
Mobley said doctors are wondering what the next step should be in Ebola response now that a cluster of up to 100 people have potentially been exposed to the virus in Texas.
“The infectious disease doctors in Springfield were wondering, if the first symptom is fever, when this becomes person to person it’s going to be a real difficult challenge to discern the symptoms of Ebola from the symptoms of the flu,” Mobley said. “So if it goes into emergency rooms, are we going to quarantine everyone in that room?”
Mobley said the CDC should be planning to set up fever evaluation centers separate from hospitals.
“We have to protect our hospitals and our medical staff from Ebola. This requires a profound paradigm shift in the medical thinking to accommodate this new challenge we have and this should have been done months ago,” he said. “The head of the CDC, Mr. Frieden, just two weeks ago, said the chance of importing an Ebola case to the U.S. was extremely small and Obama echoed that. And that was the same week they misdiagnosed the Dallas case. Why did they misdiagnose? Because we were not put on high enough alert.”
In other developments Friday both Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal called for the government to ban all air travel between Ebola-infected countries in West Africa and the United States.
Frieden, the CDC director, said it would be counterproductive to cut off air travel to and from West Africa. He said that would make the outbreak worse at its source and ultimately raise the risk for the rest of the world if medical personnel were not allowed to get into the infected countries.
Frieden’s comments come as health officials continue to screen up to 100 people in Texas who came in contact with Liberian national Thomas Eric Duncan, who is in isolation at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. Duncan flew to the U.S. on Sept. 19, but the CDC said he was screened before his flight in Monrovia and showed no symptoms of Ebola.
Mobley voiced dismay at why the Dallas patient’s family would be left in their apartment with the patient’s bloody sheets for three days.
“This has now become a person-to-person threat on U.S. soil and there are no guidelines out there. Just like there are no guidelines for this person’s bloody mattress that sat in his home with the rest of his family for three days before they figured out what to do with it,” he said.
“That is reprehensible. There’s no policy and procedures in place.”
Mobley is asking the hard questions that he says are on all doctors’ minds.
“Is it the first cluster, is it the first dozen clusters? At what point do I put my entire office in PPE (personal protection equipment) gear when evaluating fever patients during routine office visits?” he said.
As WND reported, a man was also seen pressure washing vomit off of the sidewalk and into a drain at the apartment complex in Dallas where the Ebola patient’s family lived.
“Oh Jesus. There’s no better way to send it airborne,” Mobley said. “This is dereliction of duty, and I point my finger directly at Mr. Frieden and say get the show on the road.”
‘The perfect storm exists’
Mobley, a native of Georgia, earned his medical degree from the Medical College of Georgia and his undergraduate degree in microbiology from the University of Georgia. He checked in and cleared airport security Thursday wearing a mask, goggles, gloves, boots and a hooded white hazmat suit.
“I’ve always been interested in epidemics and viruses for most of my life, and this is the real thing. I was concerned so we called a meeting of the medical community in Springfield about six weeks ago and we knew then that clusters were going to become more frequent as it spreads around the world, and it will spread around the world,” Mobley said.
He said a million West Africans are now in quarantine and 10,000 people leave that region every day for every corner of the world.
“What Third World country doesn’t have problems of distrust of government and poor sanitation? So the perfect storm exists,” he said. “We’re going to be importing these on a regular basis. That one case in Dallas has already overwhelmed the Dallas public health system. Will CDC be able to fly busloads of investigators to numerous cities at the same time? There has to be a point at which we outstretch the resources.”
He called on the CDC to develop policies, protocols and procedures and implement them immediately.
“The CDC has been asleep at the wheel for months. We are three to four months behind, and I can almost envision watching the CDC sitting around saying, ‘Oh what do we do now that we got this guy with all of his mattresses and bed sheets saturated with his family still there in his apartment?’ It’s reactionary not responsive.”
When he boarded the Delta Airlines plane Thursday he said the passengers applauded him for taking a public stand with his concerns.
“Most passengers were afraid to look me in the eye but as soon as I passed people were taking pictures or video, and I would explain to them what I was doing and they would applaud,” he said.
He said he took off the hazmat suit before entering the gate to his flight, stored it in a small carry-on bag, and took his seat on the jet.
“The passengers were applauding me for my concern and my activism. We were just about to take off, and the Delta guys come running at me and insisted that I turn over my alarming, scary equipment to them or I would not be allowed to fly,” he said.
He said he had earlier been cleared by a senior TSA official and a Delta supervisor had told him he was entitled to wear any type of clothing he wanted.
“Boy was she sorely wrong,” he said. “I just connected the dots, and I just felt I better speak up because the chances of importing this virus are very high.”