As word spread of the first female Ebola victim in the United States, the Center for Disease Control quickly engaged in the classic, chauvinistic tactic of "blaming the victim" by suggesting that the first female nurse who contracted the Ebola virus in the first person-to-person transmission in the U.S. must have broken protocol in order to contract the virus.
Media and the CDC reported that critical care nurse Nina Pham at Texas Presbyterian Health Dallas wore the appropriate "gown, gloves, mask and shield" while treating recently-deceased Ebola patient Eric Thomas Duncan.
n this frame grab from video provided by Texas Health Resources, Nina Pham, who contracted Ebola after treating a Liberian man, talks while being recorded at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014, before being flown to the National Institutes of Health outside Washington. Pham is shown in the video — posted online by the hospital's parent company — smiling as she sits upright in a hospital bed while a man identified as her treating physician can be heard thanking her for getting well and being part of the volunteer team that took care of the first patient. (AP Photo/Texas Health Resources, Dr. Gary Weinstein)
However, rather than being open to the possibility that the Ebola virus may spread through another method, such as airborne particulates from which the nurse would not have been protected in standard-issue gear, the Obama-appointed CDC director Dr. Thomas Frieden instead said in a statement on Sunday that the female nurse must have brought it on herself:
"At some point, there was a breach in protocol, and that breach in protocol resulted in this infection," Frieden said. "The (Ebola treatment) protocols work. ... But we know that even a single lapse or breach can result in infection."
Dr. Frieden did not say whether the female victim had actually admitted to breaking any protocols. In fact, the victim has declined to be identified publicly and has not spoken with the media.
Compare and contrast these remarks with public statements made by the CDC regarding the male victims who have been treated for Ebola.
Two months ago, when Dr. Kent Brantley was flown to the U.S. for treatment in Atlanta, Georgia there was no statement from the CDC regarding whether the doctor had "brought it on himself" by traveling to Africa on a volunteer mission.
In addition, when it was reported that Liberian citizen Eric Thomas Duncan had likely contracted the disease after helping a pregnant neighbor into a taxicab, the CDC's Dr. Frieden had no such comment that Duncan may have "brought it upon himself" by acting as a Good Samaritan. Nor did the CDC chastise him for lying on his travel paperwork as he traveled to the U.S. to infect others.
No, the double standard appeared only after it was announced that the first Ebola victim on U.S. soil happens to be a woman - a woman simply doing her job as a critical care nurse.
The CDC's sexist rush to "blame the victim" in the case of the first female victim is shameful and is inherently no different than shaming a female victim of rape. It suggests that the woman was somehow at fault for bestowing her own tragedy upon herself.
What's worse, the CDC's statement could still serve to relieve the governmental agency of its responsibility to fully investigate the possibility that the virus may have spread through other means such as those airborne particulates - a possibility once listed on the CDC's own website when the government admitted that Ebola can be passed through a sneeze or a cough within 3 feet of others. It is plausible that instead of doing its due diligence to stop the spread of a deadly disease, the top agency may have chosen to "blame the victim" in favor of all other possibilities, which may come at a high price to Americans' public health.
This is all the more important now that another infected nurse may have had contact with more than 100 people after taking a commercial flightfrom Ohio to Texas.
If and when the first female Ebola victim Nina Pham does speak, she may indeed divulge that safety protocols were violated in the nurses' treatment of Eric Thomas Duncan but at this time we simply have no proof.
Meantime, the first American citizen to contract Ebola -- a female and a minority -- serves as a prime example that it is in fact an Obama appointee's "War on Women" that may be thriving as much as the Ebola virus itself.
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