American Society of Parasitologists Urges Support for Ebola Health Workers, End to Unfounded Travel Bans

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On behalf of the members of the American Society of Parasitologists (ASP), the governing Council publicly supports the members of American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH) that are affected by this legal but reactionary (perhaps scientifically unfounded) travel ban imposed by the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (LDHH) and the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (HSEP).

American Society of Parasitologists
The Council believes that the proposed restrictions mean that many scientists with expertise in Ebola will not be able to personally present their information from the platform...

As a leader of innovation and scientific discovery, the United States should welcome first responder experts to share information on Ebola that helps stop the spread of the disease. The American Society of Parasitologists believes that scientific discovery and communication are critical to controlling this devastating disease.

On October 28, 2014 the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (LDHH) and the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (HSEP) sent a letter to members of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH). It stated that they have instituted the following public health advisory, effective immediately for ASTMH members attending their annual meeting November 2-6, 2014 in New Orleans.

The leadership of ASTMH replied with a statement praising their members working in West Africa and stating, “The Society firmly believes that policies (see Notice) that hinder the work of healthcare workers are ineffective and counterproductive.”

On behalf of the members of the American Society of Parasitologists (ASP), the governing Council publicly supports the members of ASTMH that are affected by this legal but reactionary (perhaps scientifically unfounded) travel ban imposed by LDHH and HESP.

The ASP Council explains that the mechanisms underlying the transmission of infectious diseases are complex and the community's knowledge increases rapidly, resulting in new treatment protocols and prevention recommendations. Those methods appropriate 3-6 months ago may have changed and been replaced by more effective methodologies. Many of the presentations at the ASTMH meeting will provide current information of Ebola. The Council believes that the proposed restrictions mean that many scientists with expertise in Ebola will not be able to personally present their information from the platform, nor will they be able to interact one-on-one with others researching this deadly disease. The latter exchanges are extremely important since many ideas for research originate from casual interactions outside the lecture hall.

The ASP heartily supports members of ASTMH. In doing so, the Council encourages all elected officials to follow the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and end unfounded travel bans for individuals who have traveled to Ebola endemic areas in an effort to treat patients and control this fatal disease.

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About the American Society of Parasitologists: The American Society of Parasitologists (ASP) is a diverse group of over 800 scientists from industry, government, and academia who are interested in the study and teaching of Parasitology. Founded in 1924, ASP members have contributed not only to the development of parasitology as a discipline, but also to primary research in systematics, medicine, molecular biology, immunology, physiology, ecology, biochemistry, behavior, and more. To learn more about the society, visit http://www.amsocparasit.org.

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David Lindsay, PhD
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