For months in the summer of 2014, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had warned the country's health-care community that an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in Western Africa could make its way here. The feds assured the public that America's modern medical resources and infrastructure could avert a crisis. We were told hospitals had prepared and trained their staffs, using CDC guidelines, to address a virus they had never seen.
Yet in late September, when a Liberian man named Thomas Eric Duncan walked into a Dallas emergency room with fever, headache and abdominal pains, his doctor and nurses found him unremarkable - just another of the night's many victims of mishap and contagion. He was sent away after a few hours with antibiotics. None of the caregivers realized the encounter would soon become part of U.S. medical history.