RANGER AGAINST WAR: The Plague: Ebola <

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

The Plague: Ebola

--El bombardeo más urgente, 
Angel Boligan 

Ah, I'm sick to death of hearing things
From uptight, short-sighted, narrow-minded hypocrites
All I want is the truth now
Just gimme some truth now 
--Just Give Me Some Truth, John Lennon

The landlord say your rent is late
He may have to litigate
But don't worry, be happy 
--Don't Worry, Be Happy, Bobby McFerrin 

I mean, what do the words say?
Oh, just lies, sir 
--Hamlet, Shakespeare (II, ii)
Are we really such ninnies that we can't be trusted to digest the news?

Concluding a report on the first reported incident of Ebola transmission outside Africa today -- a Spanish nurse who treated a missionary for the disease 25 Sept at a Madrid hospital -- is an interactive piece: Why We Shouldn't Be Alarmed About an Ebola Outbreak in the U.S.

The NYT headlines for the past couple of days seek to put a happy face on the events of the first stateside Ebola case:

Ebola Victim's Journey From Liberian War to Fight for Life in U.S.


What began as a joyful reunion - refugees from African civil strife seeking to rebuild their lives in America - spiraled last week into a national health scare.


As Ebola ravages West Africa, Liberians are losing an integral part of their culture, in which the double-cheek kiss was once the standard greeting.

"A joyful reunion", "the double-cheek kiss" -- happy terms, which belie the reality. The Houston Chronicle reported that because the family of Dallas Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan did not abide by the quarantine order, police were posted at their residence to insure compliance. Because Mr. Duncan lied on his exit documents, he will prosecuted, should he survive.

Huggies go by the wayside? (Cue up Barney the dinosaur: "I love you, you love me," ad nauseum.) Haven't we seen Europeans doing the two-cheek kiss? "Gee whiz, honey, those West Africans must be more clean, refined, and sophisticated than we thought."

Oh, and "hiccups" in the Dallas hospital's ER initially send Mr. Duncan home with antibiotics. This doesn't make headline news, but it prompts a survey at an online medical site to ask, "Does this case undermine the CDC's assurances that U.S. hospitals are well prepared for Ebola cases?"

Shucks, whaddya think? Hiccups aren't that bad, are they?

Well, that's the image the news is conjuring, all intended to reduce your anxiety level and ramp up your compassion. Only, if we took the analogy to the logical next step, we would be even more terrified as we realized how close they are to being like us.

This issue is not like a cat video; it's really not cute. How do these these titles make front page in the NYT? The press is reining us in by withholding data. Why tell us the entire truth?  Because the more facts you have, the better decisions you can make.

They fear our resultant hysteria. But we might get angry enough to demand tighter controls, especially regarding people who have traveled from epidemiological hot spots.

This is not to spread paranoia, or hatred of sick people, but rather to establish a reasonable medical protocol for survival in world growing closer daily. A quick online scan of news on Ebola at reputable science journals returns cheery headlines like, "Ebola is difficult to catch," "You can't get Ebola from an asymptomatic person," and "It's not airborne." But when you read the articles, all of this is refuted.

Ebola virus is transmitted via contact with bodily fluids. This could be micronized, aspirated saliva particles from someone sitting in close proximity to you, like the seat next to you on an airplane. Or you touch something after the infected person has left behind a trace of body fluid, and you then touch a mucous membrane on your own body with that unwashed hand.

Airborne transmission has been proven between pigs and monkeys. An asymptomatic man who has recovered can pass the virus along in his semen. "A lab worker who contracted Ebola was still shedding the virus in his semen for 61 days after he recovered according to the World Health Organization." CDC Director Tom Frieden now admits that aerosolized particles could "theoretically" transmit the virus.

Moreover, beyond the immediate threat: why hasn't a vaccination or treatment for Ebola been developed? Ebola has been around for almost 40 years -- it was a known threat. In addition, it can be militarized, so why the laxity?

Why can't we get news that matters, which would be the truth sans the envelope?

Labels: ,


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Number of people who have contracted Ebola in the USA: zero.

Number of people who have died from Ebola in the USA: zero.


Tuesday, October 7, 2014 at 10:55:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


NYT, 7 OCT 2014:

"President Obama called the fight against Ebola 'a top national security priority,' but did not specify how screening procedures [at airports] would be changed."

Are you suggesting the President's concern is unfounded? If you had any science background, you would understand that there is a always a "patient zero", and if you fail to engage all protective postures before the virus escapes into the population at large, you've lost the day.

Once that, you may enjoy a logarithmic progression of contagion. Just because you haven't yet experienced an outbreak, does not mean you will not. Your reasoning is unsound.

This is why I condemn the media reaction.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014 at 3:17:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lisa, agreed that the media and our "leadership" are way too blasé concerning ebola. That poor nurse who got the disease while caring for a patient in Spain.....now it is reported that even her dog contracted ebola and is being euthanized.

So, in Spain, a healthcare worker contracts a virus so contagious that even her dog is infected. Who did she come into contact with outside the work place? Who did the dog lick?

One contagious person on an airplane could easily infect 20, who in turn, infect 100 who in turn......the math should be obvious.

It is only a matter of time before this happens.

Putting a big smiley face on the situation is a mistake. It further undermines confidence in our government and media - a confidence that has already been eroded to dangerous levels.



Wednesday, October 8, 2014 at 9:10:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Ael said...

There has been no vaccine because there was no money in it. Pharmaceutical companies are not charities. The money now seems available and at least one vaccine is in the works.

Also, Ebola doesn't seem to be that transmissible. Witness the number of orphans left over after the parents die. Kids don't clean up the mess left by the sick and dead, so they don't typically get it. Caregivers, however, do get exposed.

That isn't to suggest that you don't take it seriously, but don't panic. Above all, don't divert large sums of money from well known chronic health care problems to fend off an Ebola chimera in North America.

One effective approach would be to fund a bunch of Cuban medical teams (cause they are well trained and inexpensive), give them decent but old equipment (cause it is cheap) and get them to Sub-Saharan Africa where they can help in lots of places (because the focus on cheap means you hired a lot of them, so they can help a lot).

Also, fund Ebola survivors, they are immune and may have a hard time getting work because people are afraid of them. Their immunity makes them truly valuable right now. Organize and pay them well.

Finally, if you are looking for nightmare scenarios, think India.
There are a lot of Indian business men in West Africa and if they bring it back to Mumbai, things could get rough.

Thursday, October 9, 2014 at 9:32:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


I appreciate your input, but a consortium of governments from the first world should realize the emergent plagues stand to shut down economies, and there IS money in averting that eventuality.

You're right about the money and Big Pharma. Today, we're staring down antibiotic resistance in a big way because research went into the money makers, like Statins. Only those in medicine seem aware that we no longer have A/B's of last resort anymore. What's left is to cobble together "cocktails" of what is already in in the formulary.

But my position is not "panicking". It's more at disgust with the misleading info disseminated by the media.

avedis has it right with the "big smiley face".

It further undermines confidence in our government and media - a confidence that has already been eroded to dangerous levels.

If anything, therein lies the threat.

Thursday, October 9, 2014 at 1:17:00 PM GMT-5  

Post a Comment

<< Home