(TheBlaze) -- A review of officials’ statements and tweets from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention over the last three weeks reveals several subtle but important changes to the language the CDC has used when discussing Ebola.
Some of those changes seem to indicate the CDC may itself be learning on the fly about the virus, even as it seeks to reassure the American public that it fully understands the situation.
For example, one key change that emerged last week is on the question of whether Ebola could become airborne. CDC Director Tom Frieden indicated on Thursday that the answer to that question may not be as clear as the CDC has said since early October.
At best, the changes to various CDC messages may just indicate an inconsistency at the public affairs level, and may not indicate holes in the CDC’s knowledge about the virus. But even if that’s the case, the changes could be a factor in the growing distrust some have in the CDC to give people the straight information they need about the virus.
Based on a review of CDC messages, tweets, testimony and other statements over the last three weeks, the CDC’s language has changed as it relates to four key questions.
Is Ebola Airborne, or Has It Become Airborne?
When Thomas Duncan became the first U.S. patient ever in the U.S. to be diagnosed with Ebola, health officials said immediately that Ebola cannot be spread through the air. Edward Goodman, an epidemiologist with the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, said “Ebola is not transmitted by the air.”
For the first few weeks, that message was backed up by a few CDC tweets as well. And even after it was announced on Oct. 12 that nurse Nina Pham had the virus, Frieden assured the public that Ebola is not airborne. “[I]t is not a disease that spreads through the air,” he said.
But on Oct. 16, in testimony before a House subcommittee, Frieden’s prepared statement made a subtle but possibly critical change. He was far less definitive in his prepared remarks, and instead addressed the question by saying, “Evidence does not suggest Ebola is spread through the air.” Notably, that testimony was delivered after a second nurse was diagnosed with Ebola.