Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Ebola 5

I would bet you've heard the news already: Ebola is inside the USA.

Sad to say; it followed my scenario posted very nearly 2 months ago, in the post "Just a bit much, and Ebola" pretty much exactly. A man got on a plane with no symptoms, and didn't show any until several days after getting off the plane in Dallas, Texas.  And was sent home undiagnosed from the hospital when he went in.

The authorities are still saying 'oh, don't worry, we'll handle it."  with the additional assurance that their methods are "tried and true."  They've been working great so far, after all.

My advice: pay very close attention.  You can already smell panic in the air.  Think now, about what your options are.

Keep in mind; there is NO, ZERO, barrier to the virus evolving around all the hopes;

It can evolve so it sheds infectious particles before symptoms show.

It can evolve to spread through the air.

It can evolve to stay infectious on surfaces for days.

And it's in a perfect situation to do any or all of those; and it's easily possible it has done so- already.  That would go far towards explaining how so many health workers are catching it and why their control measures are not working.

And- the fact that we've found one in the USA?  Suggests it may already have happened in some other world city.  Mumbai?  Mexico City?  Shanghai?


Ruben said...

Greenpa, could you please fairly quickly do a post on how we should prepare? I don't mean bullets and bunker prepare, and I know that any one of us could end up sitting beside the person who turns out to be the patient in Dallas.

But, if this becomes a bigger thing, what sort of physical and behavioural precaustions make sense to prepare?N95 masks, rubber gloves and a water filter?

Thank you.

Luddene said...

Have been following Mary Odum's blog about ebola? Not only are they thought provoking, she really knows what she is taking about. See here:

Greenpa said...

Ruben- yike. I'll give it a try; next post. But. Tha's a scary thing to ask. It's a very uncertain world.

Luddene- nope, I hadn't; wasn't familiar with that group and glad to be aware.

I read and studied E.P,Odum & H.T.Odum in 1963; a long way ahead of the curve. Sophomore in high school, NSF summer science training program. I read a couple of the posts; my guess is the science jargon is going to be way too thick for mainstream folk, even when they try to avoid it. Have you seen my 2 old posts on science communication?
The part two is the next post.

Aimee said...

Of course the possibility of a mega-epidemic is always lurking, but I'm not too concerned about Ebola transforming into that. As far as I know, the only two really massive epidemics with a very high death death rate (30-50% and up) in written history are Bubonic Plague (a bacteria, not a virus) and Influenza. I was taught that when speaking of viruses, there is generally a tradeoff between transmissibility and virulence - that is; generally speaking a virus can be highly transmissible or highly lethal but not both. The reason being that both those things take up a lot of genetic space and viruses just don't have that much real estate. So far it seems that Ebola is highly fatal but not highly transmissible, though there are indeed signs it may be evolving to a more transmissible sate. One problem is that given the setting of the epidemic we still don't know how fatal Ebola might really be if high tech health care is available. One report I listened to from a doc on the ground in Liberia said that of the people coming into the clinics, he could divide them into thirds: 1/3 would die no matter what; 1/3 would probably recover with no medical attention, and the final 1/3 was the middle ground, where the supportive care they could give (IV fluids) was making the difference between life and death. Our supportive care here is probably better than supportive care in most of those clinics - hopefully that would translate to a much higher survival rate. Over all however, I think Ebola is probably just too "hot" of a virus to be a likely candidate for a worldwide pandemic. It is so lethal it will burn itself out over a relatively short time period. Scarier to me is the idea that it might have already become endemic in parts of west Africa.

Greenpa said...

Aimee- "pandemic", is the bad word. The problem with the old wisdom is that it fits the situation where disease and host have had a chance to co-evolve to some extent. And- the last time we had one, the Spanish flu, I think? The population of the earth was a tiny fraction of what it is now; and we had no instant air links from one vast aggregation of food to another. As an evolutionist, trained by a parasitologist; I don't think those rules apply to the present situation. A counter example? American chestnut. The rules did not work there, either.