SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska



Every ecosystem IS a petri dish
By Dr. Ann Hupe


June 21, 2006

Hate to say it, folks, but every ecosystem IS a petri dish, ship and island included.

There is no way that anyone can prevent an epidemic once it started. And bandying words like: "Do these people (island and/or cruise ship) know how to wash their hands?" is petty and childish.

Instead of blaming one another, the important thing is to have protocols set up to keep an epidemic from advancing any further. The cruise ship's captain does have this protocol. So does Ketchikan and the surrounding communities and islands.

Having had served during bad viral epidemics as well as a particularly nasty tuberculosis outbreak in the Midwest in the early 1990's, I can tell you that communication is THE most important part in containment.

Let us not use this situation as a political pinata. There are better ways to deal with this and future events. This isn't the first and it will definitely not be the last time we will face a contagious disease. If this had been an epidemic from avian flu, our current behavior would have killed ALL of us -- cruise ship and islands included.

If this had been a test, we all flunked it.

Reminds me of a lesson I learned while working up in Kotzebue one very cold winter: "If we do not work together, we all die."

Let's hope we all do better next time.

Dr. Ann Hupe
Ketchikan, AK - USA

About: Local physician in Ketchikan,


Related Viewpoint:

letter Ketchikan becomes a large Petri dish in the summer.... By Robert Glenn - New York, NY - USA

letter Have A Happy, Healthy Tourist Season By Marie L. Monyak - Ketchikan, AK - USA

letter Why?Why?Why? By Joan Hurilman - Ketchikan, AK - USA



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Ketchikan, Alaska