August 2014 – TENNESSEE – An East Tennessee doctor who recently returned from treating Ebola patients in West Africa has voluntarily quarantined himself inside his home, and a local expert says it’s an admirable move, but probably unnecessary. Dr. Alan Jamison of Morristown — a city about three-and-a-half hours east of Nashville — recently returned from West Africa where he was working with Medical Teams International to treat Ebola patients, according to media reports. He is reportedly staying in his house, avoiding contact with the outside world until he is sure he does not have the virus. Medical Teams International, an Oregon-based organization that dispatches groups of volunteers across the world to combat medical disasters, has been working in areas affected by the Ebola outbreak for several months.
Dr. William Schaffner, a Vanderbilt University professor and an expert in infectious diseases, lauded Jamison for his self-imposed quarantine, even though Schaffner says Jamison is going well beyond what’s required. “We in public health and infectious diseases know he’s not a source,” Schaffner said of Jamison. “You only become hazardous to others when you become sick.” But, Schaffner said, Jamison is doing his part to put his neighbors at ease in the midst of the African outbreak that has captured worldwide attention. “My hat’s off to Dr. Jamison,” Schaffner said. Schaffner and other experts have been surprised by widespread concern about Ebola in the United States, given how hard it is to catch the virus. “It’s not influenza,” he said. “This virus spreads slowly and with difficulty, and only through intimate contact with people who are already sick. … You have to work at getting the virus.” Schaffner said medical officials treating Ebola patients in Africa should be well versed in the protections necessary to avoid spreading it. But the recent cases of two American aid workers who caught the virus in Africa make it clear that “there is some risk.” If someone were to develop symptoms for Ebola, they would need to alert a doctor immediately. Every major hospital in the country is prepared to treat the virus, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently issued an advisory that recaps official protocol. – The Tennessean