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They quarantine horses, don’t they?

October 17, 2014

In a C-Span televised session on Thursday October 16, the heads of the Centers for Disease Control, National Institute of Health (NIH), and Customs and Border Patrol (CBP)as well as other spokespersons were questioned at some length by members of a House investigative panel on various aspects of the national response to the Ebola threat.

Of course there were the usual political grandstanding speeches and some veiled references to “discrimination”, but after discarding that predictable drivel, some facts emerged.

One, the agencies responding don’t have the ability to stop Ebola spreading exponentially in Africa.

Two, the CDC’s much vaunted readiness to contain the disease and “strict protocol” was a sham.

Three, the methods of transmission are unclear at best. Although the “experts” kept saying repeatedly that you can only get by direct transfer of bodily fluids, when questioned they admitted that the virus can live for several hours on dried surfaces, longer in wet environments and can possibly transmit through other vectors such as dogs.

Four, the idea of quarantining travelers entering the U.S. or suspending travel from the African nations hardest hit by the disease is not on the table, no how, no way, because it might harm the economies of the African nations affected.


We protect horses better than that. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has clearly defined protocols for the importation of equines and other livestock into the United States. The protocol for horses is outlined in a 2006 report from the University of California-Davis titled “Global Health and the Sport Horse” ( -p.21).

Referencing the information on page 21 of that report, racehorses entering the United States to run in the Breeder’s Cup series are quarantined from the time they hit American soil to the time they leave it, including 48 hours at the designated Port of Entry, which is the only place through which they are allowed to enter. During their first 48 hours, they are held at the quarantine facility, then housed in a quarantine barn at the track. While at the track, their grooms and handlers wear bio-security suits and must walk through disinfectant foot baths before entering the barn area for 48 hours after arrival. Blood is drawn, and temperatures taken.

Breeding stock-aged horses imported from other countries can be held in quarantine for as much as 60 days if from an area infected by certain target diseases, including  African Horse Sickness, before they can be imported.

So apparently, government scientists are familiar with the concept of quarantine and its positive effects, at least on the horse and livestock industry.

It would seem that we could at least practice that basic tenet of disease control by requiring people wishing to move anywhere out of the Ebola-affected areas to enter a strictly monitored  quarantine holding area for 21 days and submit to a minimum 48 hour observation period to be sure they weren’t masking a fever with OTC medications when they arrive in the U.S..

There would be a predictable outcry from the liberal left that treating people like livestock is demeaning, even racist.


It is patently obvious that this disease is out of control in certain African countries.

Perhaps quarantining an entire country is logistically impractical. That’s an argument borne out by the difficulty of containing the outbreak even in local villages via quarantine and education about burial practices.

But surely people wishing to leave the area for any other destination in the world could be adequately managed using the same protocols we use to control the spread of disease in other species.

Perhaps President Obama and the country would have been better served by appointing an Ebola czar  from the USDA, instead of Ron Klain, another one of his and VP Biden’s  political cronies and spin doctors.

From → op-ed

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