Apparently a man wielding a syringe approached a group of plainclothes federal agents, stabbed one of them in the arm, and fled. He wasn’t apprehended. The other agents took the syringe, and the entire group was transported back to the U.S., where the man who was attacked was hospitalized:
“Out of an abundance of caution, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted an on-scene screening of the victim when United Flight 143 landed in Houston early Monday morning,” the FBI said in a statement.
“The victim did not exhibit any signs of illness during the flight and was transported to a hospital upon landing for further testing. None of the testing conducted has indicated a danger to other passengers.”
First of all, nothing is known yet about what, if anything, was in the syringe. Second, we don’t know if the man was actually injected with anything, or if he was merely scraped or if the needle broke off by the clumsiness of the attacker. “Stabbed” does not equal “injected.” Third, we don’t know if it was an attack on an American in particular, or an attempted robbery. We don’t know anything yet.
There’s already, of course, much wild speculation about Ebola, since Nigeria is one of the hot spots for the virus. All such speculation is irresponsible. Furthermore, people are already screaming about allowing the air marshal to be flown back to the U.S., claiming that he put everyone else in danger. Such claims betray medical ignorance.
Viruses have an incubation period. So do bacterial infections. It’s not presto! you’re contagious. It doesn’t work that way.
Needle/syringe attacks have been going on for years, all over the world, long before people heard of Ebola, or HIV, or take-your-pick. In Dublin, in Birmingham, in Xinjiang, China, in Quetta, Pakistan, in Roseville, Michigan (just as there have been urban myths about such attacks).
To date, none of these hundreds of attacks save one have caused transmission of viruses.
So why doesn’t everyone slow down and wait for some facts to come out before jumping to conclusions.
UPDATE: Preliminary results have identified no ‘bad toxins’ in the syringe, according to the FBI.
UPDATE #2: “A federal air marshal who was stabbed with a syringe at an airport in Nigeria is back at work after officials determined the needle did not appear to contain Ebola or any other dangerous agent, TSA brass announced in a letter to employees on Wednesday.”