Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Ebola 10 - Today's Mystery.

The US seems to have escaped having Ebola get loose in the general population.  A very good thing, and very lucky thing, considering the number of bloopers from the various agencies involved.

Like Sherlock Holmes (and Broadway, presently), we are still presented with a mystery of absence; the "Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime."  The dog that did not bark.

How did Duncan's fiancée escape infection?

I'm totally delighted for her that she did, and the 3 other people who shared the apartment; but according to what we think we know about how the virus is transmitted- she should be infected; and apparently, is not.  I would not be surprised if she came down with it yet; somewhere out past the theoretical 21 day limit  Evolving to work more slowly is a good tactic for most pathogens, and is on the route to becoming non-lethal some day.  But at this point in the epidemic, emerging more slowly, with fewer symptoms, is an excellent way to escape control methods; and keep spreading.

But it's looking good at the moment.  Keep your fingers crossed.

The news from Africa is not any better, however.  And a factor to keep in mind; the headlines on Ebola today, there on Page 2, are first; "Nigeria Free Of Ebola!"  - which of course, is simply not true- the virus is pretty certainly still there in its animal hosts; what they mean is, no humans in Nigeria now have active Ebola.  That's good; but not in the least unexpected, since the infection there was always very limited, and rapidly addressed.  Second headline, much smaller font, is the information that cases in the core epidemic are still accelerating, and ability to cope with it there is still totally inadequate.  But, hey- no new cases in Dallas.


Ok, two useful points, I hope; both to do with panic.

Firstly, we just had a wonderful, terrific, demonstration of PANIC!!! in the USA.

Not- among the populace.  Sure, 3 hypochondriacs called 911 reporting they thought they had it; but everybody else in the USA was pretty calm about it all.

The world of "Officialdom", though- was something else.  Officials everywhere were, truly, panicking.  Making announcements, pontifications, taking "actions" to ensure your safety, blithering and blathering nonstop.  And the Press provides them with an echo chamber, to keep the PANIC! reverberating.  Sells papers, you know.

Expect that.  It will continue.  Most officials are terrified that someone will now hold them immediately responsible- for something.  And it scares the bejeepers out of them.  Particularly when some nitwit is shoving a microphone in their face and demanding what they're going to do.

Secondly - if/when you find yourself starting to panic; someday somewhere; literally— stop it.

You can stop it.  As in; find yourself panicking; and regain your self control.  I know you can; because I've done it.

I loved "caving" when I was in college; otherwise known as "spelunking."  Wonderful, top to bottom.  Good companions, good tests of yourself, fascinating biology and geology.  Great.

So, like ya do, I kept pushing myself further and further, attempting harder and harder caves.

Until; one day; I found myself under about 300 feet of solid limestone; about 1,000 feet into a crack so tiny you had to take your helmet off, push it in front of you, and turn your head sidewise; with at least another 1,000 feet yet to go; all of it that tight...

All of a sudden- I did not want to be there.

Really really did not.  Hated it.  Wanted out.  NOW.  And as my anxiety came up; I very, very seriously considered panicking; and making somebody else responsible for getting me the hell out of there.

What stopped me was the forceful realization that in all probability; if I panicked in that tiny impossible crack- no one would ever be ABLE to get me out.  And the realization grew, that panic was a very poor option; with bad probabilities for survival.  Screw the self esteem and public opinion; panic was likely going to kill me.

So, I didn't.  The only way out of here was forward.  So I went.  Then I had to go back through that crawlway again; but now, of course, I knew I could do it.  And of course ego balloons, when you emerge from the cave altogether.  Whoa, cool; when can we do that again?

But I've never forgotten the "almost".  I just about lost it.  Within millimeters.

But I didn't.

So; when you see your mayor and the sheriff panicking- remember.  You don't have to.


Aimee said...

The explanation I heard for the noninfection of Duncan's roommates was that the virus is really present in highly infectious numbers only in diarrhea and vomit, and that by the time Mr. Duncan was spewing copious quantities of bodily fluids hew was in the hospital.

Anisa/LazyHomesteader.com said...

I too have found the news interesting this week. The media seems to now be poking fun at the "epic epidemic panic" that they themselves created. Of course they don't acknowledge that they had a large hand in that panic. I feel somewhat skeptical that we are totally out of the woods as far as Ebola in Dallas... like you said it's a mystery how Duncan's fiance could not have gotten the disease. Unless he already knew he had it when he left his country (likely?) and kept away from his fiance. Really?
A close friend of mine is an ICU nurse in Arizona, and we've talked a lot about Ebola over the last few weeks. The hospital she works at started training the staff for an Ebola patient. The nurses spoke up and demanded better equipment and procedures. Equipment and procedures that they should have access to without having to see nurses in Dallas getting blamed for contracting Ebola. The problem - like you also pointed out - is that it is unlikely to last. As soon as the immediate scare passes it will once again become an African problem and be forgotten about. It's unlikely that hospitals across the country will get the equipment and training needed to care for quarantine-level patients, whether Ebola or otherwise. The panic will happen all over again.