“Ebola is So Last October”

No matter how devastating the disease, that line captures the come and go of today’s plagues in the news. It’s hard to tell if the microbes are winning or if the news networks are just better at winding us up. Independent of TV, I’m getting barraged by email updates on influenza, whooping cough, enterovirus and measles to name a few. Apparently a case of bacterial meningitis was diagnosed nearby recently as well. Infectious disease is interesting, but the social dynamics are equally fascinating. What happens to a hospital with a single case of suspected Ebola? How about confirmed Ebola? Did you get your flu shot? Who’s to blame for the measles bump lately? Are anti-vaccinators evil, delinquent or just very caring parents? This post isn’t meant to add froth to the lather, but instead I’d like to offer an alternative angle and some Pre-R product placement.

Microbial scares are part of the human condition. I levitated with giardiasis in high school, along with my father and many others who drank the town water. If you’ve had it you know my meaning of “levitated.” HIV was the up-and-coming killer microbe at the time, and I was one of two students on the “AIDS committee,” (not cool). I’ve watched news stories come and go on flesh eating bacteria and have helped treat a few cases. My first patient as an intern at UNM had hantavirus; though sitting up, eating, talking and breathing meant he didn’t attract much news. TB and antibiotic resistant TB have kept docs guessing for years. More recently H1N1, SARS, Avian flu, MERS… and these barely compare with small pox, plague or “Spanish flu” of the early 1900s that killed many millions. We’re coevolving with microbes and the story continues. Some bugs like Ebola kill fast and fade. Some like HIV attack more slowly. Some like influenza bob and weave year after year. Others like lactobacilli (yogurt), become our friends. Back to Pre-R product placement: Why in the world do we attract patients with infection to gather in any one place?

“If you’re sick, see your doctor or go to the ER.” Crazy I say! Why go anywhere? This advice amplifies and encourages building-sized abscesses.

Home care for infectious disease is my mantra. Mind you, Pre-R is a drop in the healthcare soup, and we haven’t yet purchased our all-purpose, hermetically sealed, mobile-ICU. But doesn’t home care for infectious disease just make more sense?… Especially for the viral illnesses where chicken soup +/- ibuprofen remains cutting edge care. Think you’ve got a cold, flu, measles or Ebola? We’ll mask up and come to you for the first three. Let’s start with Skype for the latter.

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