Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Ebola 9. Not yet, probably.

So here we are at Ebola Does Dallas 2.  Although now it turns out it may also be Ebola Does Frontier Airlines, Cleveland, and Akron- and maybe Fort Lauderdale and Atlanta.

The second nurse from Dallas- was in Akron, Ohio for several days, visiting family... before she went to the Cleveland airport, flew back to Dallas, and was placed in isolation the next day.  And- some sources are reporting she 'had a slight fever' before she got on the airplane.  In other words, she was "symptomatic" in Cleveland.

But hey, Frontier assures us they "cleaned the aircraft thoroughly, according to CDC guidelines" before putting it back into service.  "Flight 1143, on which the woman flew from Cleveland to Dallas/Fort Worth, was the last trip of the day Monday for the Airbus A320. But Tuesday morning the plane was flown back to Cleveland and then to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., back to Cleveland and then to Atlanta and finally back to Cleveland again...:

Then they took it out of service when notified about the ebola on board.  In other words, their cleaning was not for ebola; but just their standard.

Remember my points about wandering about in airports?  Here we are.  This is a huge vulnerability.

This is a deeply systemic weakness; quite apart from our astonishing stupidities.  Whose idea was it to ok travel to Ohio for a nurse who'd just been working closely with ebola???

Would I run from Dallas now?  Not yet.

At the moment, all the cases are associated with the hospital there.  They might be able to contain that, yet.  If we get to the point where there are a couple of new ebola cases a day in Dallas- which are not instantly relatable to the hospital; I think that would do it.  Even the very slow responses of officialdom might, at that point, be willing to roadblock Dallas; and only allow people in and out who have official reasons.  You and your family, don't qualify.

I was delighted to see the NYT actually cite "evolutionary biologists" - who study viruses - on their opinions about ebola.  I was not delighted with the messages transmitted from these scientists however- there are glaring errors - of "belief" not science.  One of the most bizarre, to me, is the repetition of "oh, we've never seen that happen." followed by the statement that therefore, obviously, it never will.

Stunning to me; this kind of thinking is now possibly the prevailing habit in both science and medicine. And I promise you, 40 years ago, that opinion would have been laughed out of any seminar; it's not only asinine; it's been proven wrong repeatedly, definitively.

Our science; our medicine, have been becoming stilted and untested, and un-culled by reality.  The truth of the value of your science it not its reproducibility; its only the repeatability of your grants.  A huge amount of science now being published is NOT reproducible; possibly as little at 10-30%;  a few are starting to worry about that.  One major driving force- try getting a grant to reproduce someone else's work.  Instant shredder.

It may be too late to worry; our world depends our out technical knowledge- and it's been compromised.


This is from an old post here; but is precisely illustrative of the current state of our scientists; and their supposed "oversight". This guy is staggeringly out to lunch.

Used to be only ninnys didn't think problems all the way through- but it seems to be a pathway now being taught to PhDs.

The next example, which pushed me over the edge, is from BBC Science.

This professor guy (and not a minor one, but "the director of the scientific aquaculture programme at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) in Woods Hole, Massachusetts") is spending huge amount of money working on training aquaculture fish to come back when called, in the ocean; by a specific sound.

Then, see, they could go find some of their own food, and wouldn't always be pooping in the same toilet, but would come back when you wanted to feed- or kill them.

First try didn't work. Predators ate them, as soon as they were allowed to escape from the cage. I'll be darned.

Besides which- gosh, if you've got your fish trained to come and be fed, and the signal is a sound... exactly how long do you think it will take the predators to learn that the sound means- time to come and get fed? Right here?

I think any signal, in any medium, you can use to train your fish will emphatically be intercepted by the predators, immediately.
At first, the fish began to forage outside of the aquadome, moving in and out at the prompt of the sound, just as the researchers had hoped.
"But then we start seeing these bluefish circling our cage. And these are notorious for being ravenous and ruthless hunters," he says.
"Very frustratingly, we went back day after day to find these fish still showing up at the cage, and we couldn't for the life of us call the black sea bass back.
Tagged black sea bass (Scott Lindell)
The tags helped the researchers to identify their bass
"They were scared to death - we went diving, and we could see them amongst the rocks, but nothing was going to make them run that gauntlet between the rocks and the cage when it would put their lives at risk."
And the fish had good reason to be scared.
When the team caught one of the bluefish and slit open its belly, they discovered 12 tiny tags - the fish that they had been attached to had already been digested.
But. Big, hopeful, news coverage on the BBC!! Hey, the funders will love it.
And his answer? Gonna build robotic sheep-dog sharks to keep the little predators away.

What a good idea.


Ok, so the hammer is not working on this machine screw. Maybe if I hit it from the side, with more money...


knutty knitter said...

I knew science was getting a bad rap but I have to say it looks like some of them deserve it - with bows on!


Aimee said...

Of course the fish call won't work, predators are generally more intelligent than prey animals by a fair margin. As far as the Ebola scare - I'm not worried yet. I thought closing schools was a big overreaction - though if I were in charge I would indeed tell any children being monitored for potential exposure not to come to school until the 21 day period is over. Assuming that the transmissibility facts are as reported - direct contact with bodily fluids, vomit and diarrhea being much more infectious than saliva or sweat - than I wouldn't evacuate probably ever. I'd just stock up and hunker down.

Greenpa said...

Aimee; I agree most of the school closings are overreactions; you can bet there will be plenty.

Regarding transmissibility- there is abundant evidence now- not that the stated modes are mistaken, but that we should be abundantly cautious that other modes are possible. Not much from data inside the US, but from Africa; Doctors Without Borders, the unquestioned experts at this point, have had 16 doctors become infected, with 9 deaths.
I can't imagine any workers being more careful to follow the rules- and yet they become infected. In fact- when you repeatedly see data that contradict your rules- it's time to suspect your rules are incorrect.
The easiest thing for the virus to do, genetically, is to NOT cause a fever in later stages; so people escape screening. Very high biological rewards for such variants. Then it could easily be shedding virus when people seem asymptomatic.


Anisa/ said...

Greenpa, I've been staying quiet in the blogging world since our move from Colorado to Texas in 2013. But I've been reading. And I'm surprised that no one else is paying attention. I know you are always watching this kind of thing, and maybe I'm only really paying attention because now that I live in Texas, Ebola is literally closer to home.

We are in San Antonio, and I'd like to think that's far enough from Dallas to be "safe" but I don't think that's the case. Blood is being sent to Austin for testing which is too close for comfort. The CDC's constant string of blunders seem like the set up for a bad movie at this point.

Dallas County narrowly avoided a Disaster Declaration today. They are asking hospital staff to voluntarily avoid public transportation. It won't be long before that becomes involuntary.

I'm not panicking, but I am making sure the pantry is stocked and we have some extra water on hand. I'm glad you're paying attention.

Val said...

I'm not on topic here, but I've just read through your archive and I wanted to say thank you for taking the time to write up so much.

Also, your *nice* outhouse reminded me of old family stories about my great-great-(I'm pretty sure that's how many)-grandfather, who was a prosperous wheat farmer and lived well into the era where indoor plumbing was normal, but couldn't stand the thought. But he had a covered walkway out to the outhouse, so you could walk out and have it be more or less clear. Winter in the Palouse isn't like yours. Brought me a smile to think of.

Hank Roberts said...

"DALLAS — No restaurants, grocery stores, movie theaters or other places where members of the public congregate. No travel by airplane, ship, long-distance bus, train or other modes of commercial transportation.... are the restrictions that dozens of health care workers who treated the Ebola victim Thomas Eric Duncan are being asked to follow for the 21-day maximum incubation period ....
County Judge Clay Jenkins, Dallas County’s chief executive and its director of homeland security and emergency management, said he was confident that all of the workers would agree to sign the follow these agreements.”