Monday, September 8, 2014

Ebola 4

So - more people are getting scared about it.  Including the BBC; which  to my amazement has this as their top headline right now: Ebola crisis: Liberia 'faces huge surge' says WHO.  Not the #1 Most Read article on the Washington Post right now; New Royal Baby!!

The BBC goes on to say "Ebola is spreading exponentially in Liberia, with thousands of new cases expected in the next three weeks, the World Health Organization (WHO) says."

I'm still not quite buying the "exponentially"; but yes, this sounds more serious.  As SquashPractice pointed out in a comment on the previous post here, Wikipedia Ebola page now does have the graph I've been looking for (new deaths and new cases / day); and it does have an "up curve", which, yes, is more scary - there are two unrelated phenomena which could account for that, without meaning Ebola is actually becoming more aggressive.  Which is not to say it's not; you understand.

The two factors; A) The reporting of new cases has possibly/likely increased dramatically in the past weeks. B) The disease is expanding- think of an ever increasing circle as it moves into the population. There will be many more infections on the circumference of the larger circle.   That's to be expected; and to me is not any more threatening than previously.

It was always expected the cases would expand, and accelerate; no mutations required.

So; bad, but not OMG we're all going to die.  The "thousands of new cases", however, do mean the risk to spread to distant cities will go up rapidly in the near future.  Keep paying attention.

So, now the bad Ebola news.  What they're not telling us.

One factor, reported in Wikipedia and nowhere else at all, so far as I can tell; the small, unrelated outbreak in the DR Congo?  Is less small; and not unrelated.

"On 20 August, several people, including four health care workers, were reported to have died of Ebola-like symptoms in the remote northern Équateur province, a province that lies about 750 miles north of the capital Kinshasa.[102] By 21 August, 13 people were reported to have died with similar symptoms."   So - at least 20 dead in DR Congo, including 4 health workers, not the 13 the WHO reports.

And: "Blood samples were sent for testing and on 24 August it was reported that the samples were positive for Ebola; one tested positive for the Sudan ebolavirus, which is a different species of ebolavirus than the one responsible for the West African outbreak; the other tested positive for a mixture of the Sudanese and Zaire species, the species that is responsible for the present outbreak in West Africa.[104][105]"

Italics mine.  Ok, that's scary, from the evolutionary standpoint.  2 virus strains are mixing (I don't use the word "species" here, I don't think it's correct.)  That means- lots more chances to evolve, now.

And one more; this is my own guess, unsupported by any official statements; I think the WHO knows, and is not telling- that the Ebola virus has already mutated to become more transmissible.

Take a look at the photos in the BBC article.  The health workers are wearing isolation outfits designed to prevent breathing in contaminants.  Which, they tell us officially, does not happen.

And also from that article: "Transmission of the virus in Liberia was "already intense", and taxis being used to transport infected patients appeared to be "a hot source of potential virus transmission", the WHO said."

Taxis?  Also - not a big source of "direct contact with body fluids".  But; if the virus can now survive in dried sweat or sneeze droplets?  That would do it; and I do think - it has already happened.

Keep paying attention.


Matthew Buza said...

My biggest concern are the 100's of medical doctors and nurses that are getting the virus. The concerns about the transmission of the virus but also the psychological affect to the existing health system.

Greenpa said...

Matthew- the number of infected health personnel is one of the things that makes me think the virus has already become considerably more transmissible.

Those people have to be terrified- and being as careful as they can- but they're still contracting it.

Not only terrified, but courageous beyond our general comprehension.

What they have been taught about how to avoid it is just not working. Ergo- what they've been taught is no longer true.

Greenpa said...

Incidentally, Matthew, I find the "ebolanews" blog you cite there a little disturbing: I cannot find any "Who is writing this blog" info; and it cites a couple of news sources I would never look at, as they're known to be highly unreliable (e.g. Fox...) But; it does look on the surface like they're just compiling everything with no visible agenda. So... why no identity?

Matthew Buza said...


Thanks for the heads up. I've added a Who on the blog. I appreciate the help.

Just a small time blogger here in Seattle area. No affiliation with anyone but myself.

Agree on the link sources. Just posting as much news as I can for people to read. I've been reading Zerohedge and their coverage on the ebola crisis for a while, but needed more. I couldn't find anything doing what I wanted so I started a blog assuming there might be others like me.

I'm also concerned about how the disease might be accelerating either through poor management or mutation. I just posted on the WHO's report where we've seen a %49 percent increase in the numbers.


Luddene Perry said...

Now I here we're sending troops to Africa to help with the out break. How many of them will bring it home with them?

Greenpa said...

Luddene - you'll hear that question a LOT in the next few days; but the real true answer is "Not one; if the military follow procedures." Which they certainly CAN do, if not messed up with extra "help" from Congress. (I grew up in the US Navy...)

The soldiers going there will need to have a lot of guts. We owe them a tremendous amount, even now before they deploy. Would YOU want their job?

The way to be 100% certain it does not come back to North America with them- is to send a hospital ship (I assume we still have some). All soldiers returning home should be required to spend 40 days on the hospital ship, and be certified "clean" at that point. Longest known incubation is 22 days. They can do useful work on shipboard, while clearing quarantine. Or; something like that. 3,000 is a very small number of people to keep under control; that can be done.

Matthew Buza said...

I think a lot of the 3000 will be going to build facilities and putting in place infrastructure. An even smaller amount will be there to treat patients.

Hank Roberts said...

Seems to me that pushing roads through new territory gets animals moving as they are displaced or move away from unfamiliar disturbance.

I wonder if the animal reservoir is expanding and giving the virus more exposure to more possible hosts, and so increasing the risk from bush meat in areas where that hasn't been risky in the past.

The biggest mistake I see being made in Africa is developing roads and electrical distribution -- rather than leaping that stage and developing village-centered power and water systems. And, heck, Zeppelins instead of highways.

Let the wild country be wild and undisturbed rather than stirring up trouble that may spread quietly and pop up unexpectedly.

Just speculating.

Hank Roberts said...

re ebolanews blog:

For anyone who has trouble reading dark gray on dark brown (yeah, I am old) -- this will help:

It's invaluable, many places.