Ebola: ‘Health Officials Should Stop Acting Like Politicians’ [Dr. Joe Alton Interview]

Ebola travel restrictions are not a good idea, according to the CDC and the Obama administration, but not all American doctors agree with the government experts. Dr. Joe Alton, aka Dr. Bones, is an M.D. and fellow of the American College of Surgeons and the American College of OB/GYN. Dr. Alton is also a member of Mensa and collects 19th century medical books to gain insight on off-grid medical strategies. Joe and Amy also recently created the Doom and Bloom Survival board game.

His wife, Amy Alton, A.R.N.P., aka Nurse Amy, is an Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner. Together, they’re the authors of the number one Amazon bestseller in Survival Skills and Safety/First Aid, The Survival Medicine Handbook, highly-regarded keynote speakers, The Doom and Bloom Survival Medicine Hour podcast hosts, and YouTube channel presenters, as well as contributors to leading survival and homesteading magazines.

Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy sat down with The Inquisitr via Skype to discuss Ebola travel restrictions, Ebola prevention, and the possibility of an Ebola pandemic in the United States.

dr bones and nurse amy
Dr. Joe Alton and Amy Alton, co-authors of bestseller 'The Survival Medicine Handbook.'

IQ: Do you think CDC officials and government health officials are playing politics when it comes to Ebola travel restrictions?

Dr. Bones: Exactly, I think the main issue delaying an Ebola travel restrictions mandate revolves around the CDC head and other medical advisers acting more like politicians than health experts. What they should be doing is behaving strictly as health officials concerned with public safety for the people in our country.

IQ: During the many CDC press conferences and cable news segments featuring government medical experts, Ebola restrictions are often discussed as an all or nothing scenario. The most common reason urging President Barack Obama not to invoke a public safety order to restrict travel involves the cancellation of medical aid flights to the Ebola zone in West Africa. Couldn’t travel be restricted and aid flights still allowed with a mandatory quarantine period for staffers before a plane to come back home?

surival medicine handbook

Dr. Bones: This argument that somehow restriction of air travel from the Ebola zone and active transport to Ebola zone are somehow mutually exclusive. That is clearly a flawed argument and based on a political reality rather than actual medical realities. The Obama administration, the federal government is unwilling to do what is necessary to protect the public, for what I think is political reasons. It is a very hard thing, to wage the battle that always occurs between individual freedoms and public safety when faced with an emergency scenario. I think some politicians are concerned about being accused of profiling on an ethnic basis and political correctness when it comes to restricting air travel from Africa.

President Obama and current top health officials are simply unwilling to understand or unwilling to take the steps they feel would put them in a bad light with their main support base. It is time for health officials to stop being politicians. Anyone who rises to the top spot in any government agency has to have some politician in them, I believe that from the bottom of my heart. But, to protect us, they have to restrict travel from areas where contagious diseases are raging.

IQ: The CDC has stated that initiating Ebola air travel would have a negative impact on the economy. The cost for caring for the first Ebola patient on American soil, Thomas Eric Duncan, was reportedly $500,000 and his medical care and another $100,000 for the removal and transportation of potentially infected items from the Ivy Apartments. If more people from the Ebola zone flee for their lives, couldn’t there still be an adverse financial impacted on the United States.

Dr. Bones: Yes. The risk to us form a health standpoint is substantial. Even from a financial standpoint, with each of the Ebola patients coming to America taking up so many resources. If you think about all of the money spent on resources for just one Ebola patient, Mr. Duncan, that large sum of money could have been put to great use curtailing Ebola in West Africa instead. Think how many cases of desperately needed cases of gloves, masks, patient gowns, and protective coveralls for medical staff that could have been purchased. All of these things are in very short supply in the Ebola zone and needed on a daily basis.

IQ: Is America prepared to take on Ebola?

Dr. Bones: We have a system in place that gives all of the information on how to dispose of hazardous waste safely, tells hospitals what the appropriate methods are for dealing with someone with a very highly contagious disease. It is just not in the forefront of the minds of all the people at hospitals, human error will come in play.

So far, with the Mr. Duncan case, we have a 100 percent failure rate at following established protocols. With more high-risk individuals coming into the country, a risk for the spread of Ebola increases. Not just with Ebola either. The recent immigration crisis at the Texas border is a prime example. Complacency is our downfall. A million different issues are occurring at once right now. Medical mistakes can happen to anyone at any time. This is the type of things that makes me be so adamant about travel restrictions. CDC Director Thomas Frieden can make a quick and simple solution that is very, very right.

IQ: U.S. Border Patrol National Association Vice President Chris Cabrera has voiced concerns about the impact on America is Ebola hits Mexico and Central America. Hundreds of illegal immigrants crossed the Texas border from Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone last year, according to government reports. The tens of thousands of illegal immigrants which crossed the border this summer will be a drop in the bucket, according to Cabrera, if a mad rush to reach potentially life-saving medical care occurs after Ebola arrives in Mexico and Central America. Should such a scenario develop, Cabrera’s prediction that an Ebola outbreak and economic crisis could occur here seems like a feasible end result. Preventing Ebola and an economic crisis appears to many to be a straightforward and non-partisan issue. Why do you say to folks who feel President Obama and Congress are dragging their feet on the matter?

Dr. Bones: If Ebola cases hit Latin America, such a scenario could occur. Politicians see a down-size to issuing travel restrictions, they don’t want to seem mean-spirited. This is why I believe it is so difficult for them to impose these type of restrictions. A travel ban from a country where most residents who live there are considered to be a minority here, will be viewed as a form of racism by some in this country. And, if they are considered to be racist, there will be political consequences for the people in power right now – that is why there is such reluctance.

IQ: Congress is now discussing Ebola, do you think any action will occur or just lengthy hearings on the matter?

Dr. Bones: I believes action by Congress will involve throwing money at the problem. In one sense, that is a very good idea. Preventing a terrible humanitarian disaster in West Africa is a good idea for everyone and such aid has been lacking. Buying supplies and offering aid to help heal those people abroad will be helpful in decreasing the number of case there, but not curtail the cases of Ebola that wind up here. Ebola deaths are more than doubling each week, we would have to increase aid 20-fold to actually stand a serious case of containing the deadly virus.

IQ: Many people around the world are concerned about the possibility of airborne Ebola and worried that health officials are not fully aware or sharing all the facts regarding how Ebola is contracted.

Dr. Bones: Although CDC officials will tell you that Ebola is not airborne, in and of itself, I call that semantics. You can catch Ebola by inhaling a cough from a patient or blood splatter, or even a drop of spraying vomit – all of which are transmitted through the air and do not require actual physical contact. A lot of careful phrasing meant to calm the general public is going on. Having said that, I believe it is unlikely for someone to get Ebola by being on the same airplane or in the same room with someone, or sitting at the same dinner table – as long as they are not sharing food. This is a virus and viruses mutate. There is evidence that Ebola is already actively mutating in West Africa. The mutations which have been documented so far are minor.

IQ: Unless and until President Obama or Congress initiates travel restrictions, what transmission prevention tips can you offer?

Dr. Bones: In the meantime, since I believe that is it an unlikely occurrence that travel restrictions will be enacted, I advise everyone to carry alcohol wipes, or Lysol wipes and wipe down things around them when they travel, like arm rests, doorknobs, etc. It is probably a good general policy to wipe door handles of public restrooms as well. Basically, keep a barrier between your hands and things the public touches.

America is a nation of rugged individuals, folks who do not think to pack around handi-wipes. With a deadly disease like Ebola, I am afraid that we are going to end up with a lot of dead rugged individuals.

IQ: The American aid workers who were transported back to the United States for life-saving treatment have been asked to share their blood with other patients. Unfortunately for Thomas Eric Duncan, his blood type was not a match with the other two survivors. Could this process help save other lives in the future?

Dr. Bones: The NIH (National Institute of Health) says there is no evidence that blood transfusions with the blood of survivors is an effective method of treatment. Right now there is a thriving black market in Africa for Ebola survivor blood. It stands to reason that the antibodies in the blood of survivors could be helpful during treatment, however the question is how long did those helpful antibodies survive. Long enough for a new patient to recover? It is very difficult to say. But, there is no downside to attempting such a transfusion as long as the blood types match. If I had Ebola, I would either die or completely recover in 14 days, if survivor blood in my type was available, I would want to give it a shot.

IQ: Do you think there will be an Ebola pandemic in the United States?

Dr. Bones: I believe an Ebola pandemic is unlikely in America. I very much believe there will be more cases. But a pandemic involves the entire country being effected by Ebola. Because Ebola is a relatively sensitive virus, it is not hardy. It does not like to live in water and does not like to live very long in any area that is not subtropical. Our southern states where the climate is much milder, is the likely spot for more Ebola cases to present as we head into the winter months.

Do you think Ebola travel restrictions should be enacted to prevent the spread of the deadly virus in America?

[Images via: Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy]