EBOLA TRIGGERS POLITICAL TURMOIL IN U.S., SPAIN

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NEW YORK –With echoes of the U.S. scene, the Ebola outbreak has become a political crisis in Spain as voters vent anger toward the conservative government of Mariano Rajoy for being slow to appreciate the serious of a health crisis that caught the nation’s public hospitals unprepared.

In the U.S., meanwhile, nurses Nina Pham and Amber Joy Vinson both contracted Ebola treating Liberian victim Thomas Eric Duncan, despite constant reassurances by Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Prevention in Atlanta, that the CDC understood the disease and had adequate protocols in place to contain it.

Now, nurse Kaci Hickox, released Monday from hospital quarantine after protesting her civil rights had been violated, has prompted a rebuke New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie by the Obama administration for suggesting a mandatory quarantine could be placed on health-care workers returning from West Africa after treating Ebola victims.

Hickox objected to being placed in mandatory hospital quarantine simply because Dr. Craig Spencer, who treated Ebola patients in Guinea with Doctors Without Borders, passed health screening on his return Oct. 17 to the U.S.

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With polls showing more than three-fourths of Americans supporting some form of an Ebola travel ban, the Obama administration’s resistance risks a political fight, as support in Congress for a ban builds.

In Spain, Javier Limon, husband of nurse Teresa Romero, the first person to contract Ebola in Europe, went public with a video from his hospital room in quarantine. He castigated the Spanish government for its “lousy treatment” of the case, which has included euthanizing the couple’s pet dog as a precaution.

Romero contracted Ebola Oct. 6 after treating in a Madrid hospital two Spanish missionaries who were infected in West Africa. The missionaries returned by air to Spain, one in August and the other in September, via air travel, with neither showing signs of the disease while they traveled. The virus has an incubation period of up to 21 days in which no symptoms of the disease are apparent.

So far, the Spanish government, much like the Obama administration, has joined with the World Health Organization in refusing to impose travel restrictions on travelers from West Africa. They argue open travel is critical to the effort of international health organizations to combat the disease in countries where the virus continues to rage, particularly Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

Written by JEROME R. CORSI
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