Ebola, screening, and the US.

In a recent contribution to Forbes, Arthur Caplan has listed five ethical points that should be considered now that Ebola has entered the US. In general I agree with him but I also think that his first point is too US-centric and that it needs to be commented on.

Caplan’s first point is that:

  1. A case like this was bound to happen. A few more are likely given the ability to travel easily from nation to nation. There will be calls to restrict travel from West Africa but that is not useful or needed. In today’s world there are too many ways to get from there to here. What is needed is to seriously screen passengers getting on planes or boats to the USA for symptoms of Ebola.

To this I would add that if in fact there are sufficient cases of Ebola in the US then not only passengers getting on planes or boats to the US should be seriously screened for Ebola symptoms but passengers leaving the US should also be seriously screened for such symptoms. The fact that the US has the necessary means for dealing with cases of Ebola does not mean that other nations have such means. In this case the US, as any other nation, has the moral duty of preventing the disease from spreading; and even more so to places where dealing with such a disease would be difficult or very difficult.



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