Our congratulations to Bentley. The young Cavalier King Charles Spaniel will soon be going home after 21 days in quarantine and passing three tests for Ebola.
Bentley’s owner, Dallas nurse Nina Pham, was released from her own quarantine at the National Institutes for Health in Maryland last week after being cured of the deadly disease. Immediately after her release, she said that she was looking forward to seeing Bentley again, but officials told her she had to wait. The incubation period for Ebola is 21 days, and Bentley hadn’t quite been under observation for that long. Tomorrow, that 21 days is up.
But even at that point, it was already being reported that the news was looking good: Bentley was healthy and happy in his quarantine, and had already passed several tests. Now it’s official, and he’ll get to go home. Yesterday, Sana Syed, director of the Dallas Public Information Office, happily tweeted, “All 3 samples came back negative today. We’re planning the big reunion for Sat -Nina is ready! Will keep y’all posted.”
Although seeing her dog was one of Pham’s first requests when she came back home, it was denied until now. Dallas County judge Clay Jenkins, who’s been overseeing the response to Ebola, was afraid that having Nina visit and then leave again would be painful for the dog and make it harder for the vets to keep him comfortable in isolation. “I’m lobbying for her and the dog, but we have to do what the doctors and scientists think is best,” he told the media at the time.
Even in isolation, Bentley has become beloved by vets and the public alike. Cate McManus, operation manager of Dallas Animal Services told CNN, “He’s such a joy, you can’t help but love this little guy. I can’t wait to see him on talk shows when he’s all healthy and out of here.”
The most important thing about Bentley’s stay in isolation is the contrast it provides to the response in Spain. Officials in Madrid euthanized Excalibur, the dog belonging to an Ebola patient, almost immediately after his owners were put in isolation. Despite protests, there was no attempt to isolate and observe the dog, nor to even discuss the possibility of Ebola being transmitted from a dog to a human. (There are no reported cases of such transmission happening.)
There will be a lot more opportunities for panic and hysteria to take control if we see more Ebola cases in the United States. The cases of Bentley and Nina Pham prove good models of how to handle the crisis calmly and rationally.
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