Is mandatory quarantine the answer to contain Ebola outbreak in the USA?

Dr. Craig Spencer, a New York based physician who cared for Ebola patients through Doctors Without Borders, is now in isolation at Bellevue Hospital receiving care.

Dr. Craig Spencer, a New York- based physician who cared for Ebola patients through Doctors Without Borders, is now in isolation at Bellevue Hospital receiving care.

On Saturday, October 25, The World Health Organization (WHO) released figures which show that more than 10,000 persons have been infected with Ebola, with almost 5,000 dying from the disease as the infection rate grows internationally.

However, those infected with the disease since the outbreak began in March, are confined mainly to three West African countries: Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. 20 cases were reported in Nigeria, which has now been declared Ebola-free, one in Mali, four in the United States, one in Spain and one in Senegal. In the United States, one person, Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian national who was visiting family in Texas, has died from the disease.

The other infected persons are all health care workers who either cared for Duncan or other infected persons while performing humanitarian missions in the countries ravaged by the disease. So debate now rages about the actions taken by governors in Illinois, Florida, New York and New Jersey in enforcing mandatory quarantine for any person who returns to US soil after being in contact with Ebloa-infected individuals in West Africa.

This action comes on the heels of New York-based Doctors Without Borders physician Craig Spencer, 33, who was transported to Bellevue Hospital in lower Manhattan on Thursday, October 23, where he later tested positive for Ebola. Spencer returned from a mission caring for Ebola patients on October 17 and though he self-monitored, and contacted medical officials when his temperature spiked, his actions caused panic among New Yorkers, some of whom believe that he placed others at risk by failing to place himself into quarantine immediately upon his return to the USA, as a precautionary measure.

ABC medical director Dr. Richard Besser, who has himself travelled to Liberia to work with Ebola-stricken patients, warns that the guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), where he previously worked, are sufficient. Those guidelines require people returning to the US from Ebola-stricken areas take their temperature twice per day for 21 days, as Besser did, and immediately report to the hospital if a high temperature occurs. But Governors Andrew Cuomo (D-New York) and Chris Christie (R- New Jersey), beg to differ, insisting that mandatory quarantine is the only way to safeguard the public. Who is right?