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CDC Ebola Failure Will Add to Public Distrust of Government

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

It’s no wonder Americans don’t trust the government. Sandwiched between ideological zealots at the IRS and the EPA and massive corruption at the Veterans Administration, the public is being exposed to the consequences of bureaucracies running wild.


President Obama is adding to the public’s discontent with the government. Obama’s high profile lies about his health-care plan and his insistence that there is “not even a smidgen of corruption” regarding the IRS targeting Tea Party groups are most certainly adding to the public’s distrust of government.

According to a recent CNN poll, only 12 percent feel the government can be trusted most of the time while a whopping 75 percent trust the government only some of the time.

Distrust of government will only increase because of its handling of the Ebola virus, specifically, by allowing infected patients to be transported from Africa for treatment in the U.S.

In a shocking example of negligence and bureaucratic incompetence, the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was not prepared to deal with the implications for Americans affected by the Ebola epidemic raging in Africa.

In absence of a clear policy, it appears the Christian charities that sponsored the two Ebola infected Americans’ work in Africa made the decision to transport them to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.

Shockingly, the CDC abdicated its infectious disease control mandate to nonprofit organizations; in doing so, it violated the main principle of addressing communicable diseases: isolation.

CDC’s lack of preparation for dealing with Ebola was exposed in a July 28 letter from Franklin Graham, President and CEO of Samaritan’s Purse, to Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, Director of the CDC.


Samaritan’s Purse is a charity that operates the medical center with Serving In Mission (SIM) in Monrovia, Liberia, where Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol got infected by treating Ebola patients.

In addition to the infected patients,  SIM evacuated other staff members including Writebol’s husband and two doctors who were caring for Ebola patients. These individuals are being held in quarantine in RV vehicles on SIM’s campus in Charlotte, NC.

Graham criticizes the CDC for “significant gaps in existing CDC procedures and protocols,” especially with how to return possibly exposed workers to the U.S.

Graham also notes the lack of “existing quarantines or travel restrictions, these gaps could pose an imminent danger to our healthcare system.”

In a revealing interview with CNN Chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Frieden admitted that the decision to allow the transport of the infected doctor from Liberia did not come from the government. He also added the CDC did not exercise its authority to block the transport of the infected Americans.

Obviously, these Americans need to be treated with the best possible medical care, but that does not mean they must be treated in the U.S. The reality is there is no special treatment that can only occur in the U.S. that can’t happen elsewhere.

Knowingly allowing Ebola patients into the U.S. presents an unnecessary risk. Clearly, the safest strategy would not involve transporting patients thousands of miles through various modes of transportation and placement in a U.S. hospital.


Dr. Ben Carson also questioned the wisdom of bringing the infected patients to the U.S. On Fox News’ “Your World with Neil Cavuto,” Carson said, “Our policies should be directed against [the] worst-case scenario, not [the] best-case scenario when we're talking about the health and well-being of the population of the United States.”

The Ebola epidemic is not the only example of failures at the CDC. The bureaucracy has been plagued with accidents related to its handling of infectious agents.

That’s right, the CDC, whose business is to handle the most dangerous bacterial and viral agents has, on multiple occasions, made mistakes with pathogens including anthrax and the flu virus.

Making matters worse, CDC only discovered a serious accident after investigating another lab error. The previously unknown incident involved the shipping of a disease-producing strain of the H5N1 influenza virus that was mistakenly cross-contaminated with a less pathogenic strain of avian influenza to a United States Department of Agriculture lab.

In light of these mishaps, the CDC temporarily closed the influenza lab and stopped shipping infectious agents to other labs.

The initial incident occurred when about 60 employees were possibly exposed to inadequately inactivatedsamples of anthrax that were sent from the Bioterrorism Rapid Response and Advanced Technology Laboratory.


An internal CDC review documented a total of five incidents where infectious agents were improperly shipped to other labs.

In truth, it’s not really surprising to observe problems at the CDC when you consider Frieden’s prior post as head of NYC’s Health Department. While working for Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Frieden led Bloomberg’s war on trans-fats and promoted a soda tax to combat obesity.

The CDC is a classic case of a mismanaged agency that has lost its focus on its primary mission to combat infectious diseases.

Too bad we don’t have a vaccine to prevent the epidemic growth of government bureaucracies.

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