Knust Response Transcript


Knust Response Transcript


KNUST: [A]t that point and I wanted to have a few days off while I had some family visiting. Just as they were coming into town, one of the members of the epi team got a call from Dallas, and he sent an email with a little quick summary about this patient. I emailed him back very quickly, and I said, make sure to get in touch with this person, this person, this person, just to let them know, and make sure that they're getting enough education and guidance on what to do and that they're covering all the bases that need to be covered. Because to me, even from that first little brief description about the patient, I thought this looks like an Ebola case. This looks like it could be real.

That week, I was watching things very closely and I was spending time with my family, but ready to go back to the EOC. I didn't wind up going to Dallas, which at the time I felt incredibly guilty about, but they assured me that they had plenty of people that were doing everything that they could and that I needed to take a break. So I took that time, and then when I came back, things were going well in Dallas, at the time. And then the first nurse became infected.

Actually, one of the little sidebar things was that the whole situation with her dog, [laughs] we had heard that she had a dog. We very quickly started to put together a response plan for what to do with this dog, just in case--it was while she was being tested, before she even was confirmed. Sure enough, the dog had to undergo an observation period.

Just as that was slowing down a little bit, we found out about the second Dallas nurse. That day, I decided to sit out on the EOC main floor because there was so much going on. It was like--there weren't any meetings. It was just people running around and talking to each other. It was incredibly chaotic. I was out on the main floor, and Dr. Frieden came by. First of all, he was standing there, and he looked over at me and made eye contact with me, and smiled, and said, "Hi, Barbara." At first, I thought, oh no, he knows my name! [laughter] And then I saw his eyes, and he was smiling. But I could see in his eyes, he was really thinking very hard about what was going to happen next. And just a few days later, he was testifying [before Congress].

That night, I was on an airplane flying to Ohio. So I was involved in the response that was in Ohio. We had Chris [Christopher R.] Braden, Matt [Mateusz P.] Karwowski, Colin [A.] Basler, and Carolyn McCarty there, and Kristen Nordlund on the team. It was a great team. We did not have a shard of Ebola virus anywhere in the whole state of Ohio, but we still had a very good outbreak response for it. [laughs] It was very intense, though, because the second Dallas nurse, of course, had been on two airplanes, and it was decided that both airplanes were going to be treated as if she had had symptomatic Ebola while she was on the airplanes. That was a very intense investigation. Then there was also a very intense investigation of everywhere that she had been in the town in Ohio. A lot of community concern--people were thinking that the contact of a contact was a risk of having Ebola. A lot of discrimination was happening as well, as a result. Discrimination against the known contacts and discrimination against people who even knew them.

Q: Can you give some examples of that?

KNUST: For example, there were some children who were--the children of a friend of hers. And they were asked not to attend school. And the friend of hers was completely healthy. The children were completely healthy. But people were just so afraid. The bridal shop where she had worked--or not worked, where she had gone to look at different bridesmaid gowns because she had a wedding coming up, the shop closed its doors. They did a complete cleaning of the shop. The shop still wound up going out of business just a few months later because people were afraid. I'm sure that that's just an example of--I'm sure that there were a lot of other examples in Dallas, as well, of just--people had a lot of fear about it. It was really great working with the county and the state health departments there in Ohio, though. Especially the folks of the county really knew their people well. I think that they were very well-connected, and they did a great job of working to reduce the hysteria and focus on what was really important. They really stood up very well and performed, delivered very, very well. It was really rewarding to work with them.


“Knust Response Transcript,” CDC Museum Digital Exhibits, accessed June 14, 2024,