A Different Kind of Storm: New Orleans Facing Deadly Virus Outbreak

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Dr. Catherine S. O’Neal, an infectious disorder expert and chief medical officer at Our Girl of the Lake Regional Clinical Heart in Baton Rouge, compared this year’s Mardi Gras to the notorious 1918 “Liberty Loan” parade in Philadelphia. That collecting took put in the midst of an influenza pandemic, packed 200,000 people today onto city streets and very likely contributed to Philadelphia’s grisly dying toll, with much more than 12,000 folks dying within just a 6-week period of time.

But Dr. O’Neal blamed no a person for failing to consider motion to restrict Mardi Gras festivities. At the time, no cases of the virus had been determined in Louisiana and there had been fewer than 50 regarded instances in the United States. “We were being even now speaking about handwashing,” she claimed.

Dr. Susan Hassig, an epidemiologist and associate professor at the Tulane College School of Community Health and Tropical Medicine, claimed there have been other most likely motives, outside of Mardi Gras, that could make clear why New Orleans has been so hard-hit — the dense, compact character of the town its tourism sector its port, which connects it to the earth and the way individuals join culturally.

“Everybody talks to everyone, which usually means you stop and you have a conversation and then you transfer on and have a dialogue with someone else,” mentioned Dr. Hassig, who rode in a Mardi Gras parade with the Krewe of Muses this 12 months.

Ms. Turang, the unexpected emergency area nurse, who worked in Sierra Leone through the Ebola epidemic in 2015, reported physicians and nurses now converse of the individuals who experienced shown up to hospitals amongst Mardi Gras and the announcement of that initially situation on March 9, people today with reasonable flulike signs who experienced tested unfavorable for the flu.

“We had been blindsided,” she stated, “by the reality that it was truly below in New Orleans already.”

That initially verified case in Louisiana was introduced considerably less than two weeks soon after Excess fat Tuesday. All-around the similar time, reviews had begun popping up close to the South — Tennessee, Arkansas, Texas — of people who had examined beneficial right after lately returning from New Orleans.

The to start with persons to examination constructive in New Orleans, in accordance to Dr. Jennifer Avegno, the city’s wellness director, experienced not lately returned from wherever. But their array of abnormal signs had troubled medical doctors.

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