As the American public is still learning about the Ebola threat and how it may affect their lives, at least one reporter has apparently just about hit her limit. At the end of a Centers for Disease Control (CDC) conference call on Monday, Delthia Ricks, Newsday's senior health writer and medical expert, urged CDC director Tom Frieden to put the Ebola threat in context so "these crazy people [will] stop calling me." Here's the full exchange, including Friedman's reply:
DELTHIA RICKS: Thank you very much, Dr. Frieden. There have been so many problems that i'm hearing in the news and interviews that I’m doing of people who think this is extraordinarily contagious. On the level of the 1918 flu. You mentioned earlier it's not as con [sic] dangerous as the flu, the common cold, or measles, can you just go over that again very clearly and very explicitly so i can put it in a story and have these crazy people stop calling me.
TOM FRIEDEN: Thank you very much. I understand that people are afraid, Ebola is unfamiliar, it is a severe disease, but it is not highly contagious. And it requires direct contact with someone who is sick from Ebola or with their body fluids. I mentioned at the outset of this briefing, a classic study done by the CDC in Africa where people were living together in hopes or huts, and of 78 household contacts of patients with confirmed Ebola, many of whom did not get isolated until they had pretty advanced disease, zero who did not have direct contact with the individual became infected. In health care, we have a saying, never say never, we are very clear that we're still assessing the situation, and with the outbreak continuing in Africa, it is still possible that people will come to this country and be diagnosed with Ebola. We still have health care workers being monitored who were caring for patients in Texas, we still have the individuals who were contacts of the New York City patient being monitored in New York City. So we're not out of the woods, but, the science is very clear. That catching Ebola requires direct contact with someone who is ill. And from our decades of experience fighting Ebola in Africa, we have not seen any outbreaks. We have not seen any spread that is from contact with someone before they became ill. We have not seen spread from two people who have not had that kind of direct contact.
Ricks subsequently posted a story for Newsday based in part on the conference call, titled "No easy decisions on best way to handle Ebola patients," and she quoted Frieden as saying that Ebola "is not nearly as contagious as the flu, measles, the common cold and many other infectious diseases." Most of the article focuses on the issues of quarantines and whether or not that solution is appropriate for Ebola.