Ebola: Humans, Animals and Nina Pham’s Dog Bentley

Nina Pham and her dog Bentley

by Tracey Khan


Nina Pham was one of several hospital workers taking care of Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, Texas. She will always be the first person to contract Ebola within the United States.  Her dog will also be known as the first canine on U.S. soil quarantined because of it.

Pham’s dog, Bentley, was quarantined at an undisclosed location a few days after Pham was diagnosed with the illness. Unlike Bentley, Excalibur, the dog of the Spanish nurse who also came down with Ebola, was euthanized. There has not been a clear understanding as to why one dog is kept alive and the other was not.

Seemingly, the only visible difference is that the two dogs were in two different hemispheres.  Both were owned by nurses who were infected with the Ebola virus. So exactly what is the affect of Ebola on dogs? Cats?

How Ebola is Spread

We are told that the Ebola virus is spread through contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person and that the carrier must show symptoms to spread the disease.  According to the CDC, a person can become infected with Ebola under the following circumstances:

  1. Direct contact of broken skin (cuts, laceration, etc.), bodily fluids (urine, saliva, sweat, feces, vomit, breast milk, and semen) or mucous membranes (i.e., nose, eyes, mouth).
  2. Contaminated objects.

The third circumstance under which Ebola can spread is by animals.

Animals and Ebola

According to its report on Ebola and pets, the CDC states that very few species of mammals can contract the Ebola virus and spread the disease. Those animals that can become infected include bats, monkeys and apes. Monkeys and apes are few and far between in the U.S. and most of us have been warned from a young age to avoid contact with bats, living or dead.  We are surrounded, however, by our pets and here is where things get murky concerning animals and Ebola.

According to the CDC, as recently as October 13, 2014 in their article, “Questions and Answers about Ebola and Pets,” there are “no reports of dogs or cats becoming sick with Ebola or of being able to spread Ebola to people or other animals.” The CDC article goes on to explain that “dogs become infected with Ebola virus, but there is no evidence that they develop disease.” As for cats, again no real evidence but it is believed cats may be immune. We must realize, however, that these statements by the CDC regarding animals and Ebola are prefaced with “at this time” and “there is limited evidence.” The CDC has little evidence on Ebola’s affect on animals

The limited evidence available concerning Ebola is surprising, given that the disease was first discovered in 1976. Still, it is a virus and as a virus, Ebola is subject to change, to mutation, and still a mystery, hence, some of these explanations about the virus may be over simplified.

So if we are to continue a simple, safe examination of Ebola, one that keeps us guarded and protected from the disease, then we must acknowledge the danger that the unknowns about this disease present. How it is transmitted today is not necessarily how it will be transmitted tomorrow and tomorrow is not necessarily twenty-four hours away.

According to Carl Zimmer’s article in the New York Times, scientists minimize the risk of a mutation of the Ebola virus into a super virus.  Nonetheless, mutation is a thing viruses can do.

Mutations are not within the control of doctors or the public.  What is within our control is understanding how to minimize the risk of becoming  infected with Ebola, however unlikely that is in the United States, and thus  ease the minds of many who may be alarmed unnecessarily.

This may be the reason that Excalibur was euthanized in Spain.

So why then was Pham’s dog put in quarantine and not also euthanized? In an interview, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins says because the family asked. Will doctors or scientists use this quarantine to learn more about how dogs are affected by the virus? Dr. Eleanor Green, Dean of Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine says no, that care of Pham’s dog is only “to take care of the person’s pet,” not to do research.

There are so many gray areas surrounding Ebola, both in humans and in animals, that officials must make certain that Nina Pham’s dog is definitely not a threat to anyone’s health, now or in the future.

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16. October 2014 by admin
Categories: News | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

FX Series “The Bridge” Cancelled After 2 Seasons


by  Tracey Khan

So what, there were only one million viewers for the season two  finale.  The Bridge was a series that really was for “mature audiences.”  Adapted from Broen/Bron, a Scandinavian series about the bridge connecting Denmark and Sweden, The Bridge followed the seedy, dangerous, and greedy goings-on at the United States-Mexican borderDistinguished actors played peculiar characters surrounded by suspenseful plots and unique settings made this series stand apart and given time, might have given the network the following it deserved.

The cast of The Bridge was not the big name, high cost actors that are now coming to television (and coming they are since the best scripts are on TV right now). They were, however, good, if not great, performances.  Diane Kruger, the wistfully beautiful love interest of Josh Harnett in Wicker Park in 2004, portrays Sonya Cross, a detective on the United States side of the border who has Asperger syndrome but doesn’t really seem to suffer from it.  Though most reference to Sonya’s affliction is in the first season, it is an unusual character flaw that should have been used more often.  Sonya is beautiful, you can tell, but she has no egoSonya was by far, the most interesting character on the show.

The other characters held your attention.  Demian Bichir as  Marco Ruiz, the distraught Mexican detective who teeters on moral fence throughout the series, should have probably bedded Sonya a long time ago.  Perhaps then it would have had a larger following.  The rest of the cast and storyline were also worth the follow. The reporters…Hank…the villains, especially  Eleanor Nacht played by Run Lola, Run’s Franka Potente…were intense characters that gave serious critics  a show to look forward to each week.

The writers had the characters, the setting, and plots that  should have made this series successful. Looking back, it seems that the writers let this show down.

This is not the first show to be cancelled that probably didn’t deserve it, at least not from the point of view quality. We are left hanging. What did Sonya and Marco do with Eleanor and her father’s body? We will never know but the series certainly deserved better than a season finale turning into a series ending.

23. October 2014 by admin
Categories: Reviews | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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