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  #21  
Old 04 August 2014, 08:42 PM
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E. Q. Taft E. Q. Taft is offline
 
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I have a Facebook acquaintance who says she "studies viruses for a living" - I don't know her well but have no particular reason to suspect she's irrational. She is saying that there's no real reason for bringing the two patients back to the US for treatment (they could be treated as safely and effectively elsewhere) and that the real reason must be so the CIA or someone can get a sample of the virus (which would be illegal to bring in on its own). She notes they are being treated at Emory University, which is conveniently close to CDC, who would presumably be cooperating with other government agencies on this. (News stories I've seen note that Emory is one of four hospitals in the nation that has been designated for this kind of containment, and the nearness of CDC has some obvious advantages apart from any sinister ones.)

I am somewhat dubious, to say the least.

Also noted in the same discussion is a new Executive Order from the White House, revising the list of diseases for which people can be quarantined (a modification, apparently, of a directive issued during the Bush administration in response to the SARS epidemic). This is all over the blogosphere (sites like Infowars and "End Time Headlines"), although real news outlets don't seem to be saying much.
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  #22  
Old 04 August 2014, 09:21 PM
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That's must be it. After all, there's no way the CIA would be involved in anything illegal.
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  #23  
Old 04 August 2014, 10:03 PM
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So I'm seeing a lot on Facebook debunking the idea that the Ebola virus could become airborne. At the same time there's a study showing it can be passed without contact from pigs to macaques. In addition, I heard an interview with a doctor from an aid organization working in the area of the outbreaks, who seemed to say it could be transmitted via aerosolized particles from a sneeze or cough. Aerosolized trans mission has been confirmed in a laboratory study, and infection via contact between bodily fluids and eye conjunctiva is strongly suspected.

So I'm wondering if there is a difference in what people mean by "airborne." I agree that it would be extremely unlikely for Ebola to become a disease that could be, for example, windblown. It isn't that sort of pathogen, and I trust experts saying that it could not easily become so. But it think many people think of airborne as meaning that it can be transmitted without direct contact--aerosolized particles would count.

That being said, I'm not remotely worried about the two doctors returning to the US for treatment. I trust the precautions that are in place. My concern would be about a person who doesn't know he or she is infected coming in on an airplane, e.g. where it could spread more widely before being diagnosed and contained. Even then it's not a big worry of mine, and I think it would be contained in a short time. As pandemics go we have far more to fear from the flu. And as diseases go, lots of more "ordinary" diseases should be a higher concern.

I am very concerned and sorry for the horrifying loss of life happening in Western Africa though. I hope the epidemic can be contained soon, and that aid can continue toward education efforts in the area to help prevent future outbreaks.
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  #24  
Old 05 August 2014, 02:26 AM
Nick Theodorakis Nick Theodorakis is offline
 
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Default There is a cure for Ebola, we have it, we just don’t let anyone use it.

http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/20...anyone-use-it/

The post is not as "woo" as it sounds, and I suspect he click-baited it. Apparently two aid workers were treated with an experimental, untested in humans, monoclonal antibody-based drug. See:

http://www.cnn.com/2014/08/04/health...rum/index.html
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  #25  
Old 05 August 2014, 06:35 AM
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Another post from the blog Nick linked to makes some very good points, I think, about a lot of what's being said by experts, by the media, and by the public. The comments and responses are worth reading as well.

http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/20...and-elsewhere/

In particular, it made me rethink my comments above about aid going to education efforts (which should be included, but most money should go towards a vaccine). I admit I got a bit pulled in by some of the narratives about backwards folks who didn't believe in the germ theory of disease, and who were attacking aid workers. While those thing are happening in some places, they are not the cause of the outbreak, and are only a contributing cause of the spread.

And it made me rethink my comment about efforts being focused on more ordinary diseases. I didn't say malaria, but I was thinking of it, among others. Ebola is worth tackling, and we should do it if we can.

The post also addresses my questions about it going airborne.

Last edited by erwins; 05 August 2014 at 06:46 AM.
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  #26  
Old 05 August 2014, 12:57 PM
Nick Theodorakis Nick Theodorakis is offline
 
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Default Ebola outbreaks: Science versus fear mongering and quackery

http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/...-and-quackery/

Without a doubt the big medical story of the last week or so has been the ongoing outbreak of Ebola virus disease in west Africa, the most deadly in history thus far. Indeed, as of this writing, according to a table of known Ebola outbreaks since 1976 at Wikipedia, thus far in Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia, the three nations affected thus far, there have been 1440 cases and 826 deaths. Worse, the World Health Organization (WHO) is reporting that it is spreading faster in Africa than efforts to control it. In particular, late last week it was announced that two Americans who had been infected with Ebola were going to be flown back to the US, specifically to Emory University, for treatment, a development that ramped up the fear and misinformation about Ebola virus to even greater heights than it had already attained, which, unfortunately, were already pretty high....
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  #27  
Old 04 September 2014, 05:46 PM
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Dreams of Thinking Machines Dreams of Thinking Machines is offline
 
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From Nick's article,
Quote:
In other words, Ebola is a horrible disease, but because it’s so horrible it’s unlikely to kill as many people as diseases we already know about.
Ebola is essentially a non-threat to the USA and most European countries and I agree with the author's attempt to demystify it as an infectious disease.

Ebola is, however, a huge threat to Africa. I don't think medical practitioners in the USA and Europe can quite fathom how bad this epidemic is going to be. It is totally unprecedented. The WHO projection is that there will be in excess of 20,000 cases before the epidemic is controlled. But there are computational models with reasonable assumptions which project that cases could easily reach hundreds of thousands in a few months.

Lack of basic medical supplies was a problem before the outbreak.
Now, essentials like bleach and gloves cannot be obtained in affected countries. Medical workers are striking because who wants to work without gloves? (Medical workers reuse gloves by using bleach soaks but eventually the latex develops holes). When the author mentions how Malaria and other diseases are more dangerous than Ebola in absolute terms, what are people in Liberia with Malaria, staph infections, or with high risk pregnancies doing right now? Going to Ebola afflicted hospitals?
Ebola has reached a critical point in affected countries where already limited public health systems have almost completely collapsed.
The UN, WHO, and other aid agencies are having trouble getting flights in or out of neighboring countries. Food is going to be a problem. Ship crews are refusing to travel to West Africa. Insurance rates will surely skyrocket on shipments of food and medical supplies.

Nigeria is on the edge of a huge outbreak due to the actions of a doctor. They are also sliding further into civil war with Boko Haram. The GDPs of Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea are going to be heavily impacted and they are just a small fraction of Nigeria's $500 billion GDP. Foreign companies who deal in minerals and oil will flee Nigeria if/when Ebola starts to spread. The consequences of a major contraction of the Nigerian economy due to Ebola/civil war would be catastrophic for sub-Saharan Africa.

As I said, the WHO projected that Ebola could exceed 20,000 cases before being controlled. But it kind of sounds like this projection is assuming that the WHO uses the ~$600 million they've allocated to West Africa to provide medical infrastructure sufficient for dozens of field hospitals and thousands of beds. I don't see how the logistics of that works in West and West-Central Africa--an area the size of the United States--when the UN can't get flights into neighboring countries and the WHO can't find medical staff who are willing to work in the region.
I think there needs to be a multi-billion dollar international response conducted by military medical personnel who can be ordered to set up hospitals, establish logistics for supplies, and educate local populations. It's tempting to be the Voice of Reason and try to rhetorically minimize the threat of Ebola in Africa but things really are looking grim right now.
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  #28  
Old 11 September 2014, 03:26 AM
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There's currently an ebola 'scare' unfolding in Queensland Australia:
http://www.9news.com.au/Health/2014/...Coast-Hospital

Some guy was caught climbing a building and when the police arrested him he told them he was feeling unwell and that he'd just returned from the Congo two days ago and that he might have ebola, so local medical personnel swung into full quarantine mode to isolate and treat him. The police are looking into his recent travel history and they don't think he went to Africa at all so the whole thing is probably a dumb hoax.

Edit: another article with a little more detail
http://www.9news.com.au/Health/2014/...Coast-Hospital

Apparently he did travel to Africa and he is displaying symptoms of some illness but he didn't go anywhere near the areas with the ebola outbreaks
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  #29  
Old 11 September 2014, 04:11 AM
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Oops, I copy/pasted the same link twice. Here's the second link I meant to post:
http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/quee...11-10f8rp.html
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  #30  
Old 12 September 2014, 01:39 PM
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Dreams of Thinking Machines Dreams of Thinking Machines is offline
 
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http://mobile.nytimes.com/2014/09/12...html?referrer=
Quote:
MINNEAPOLIS — THE Ebola epidemic in West Africa has the potential to alter history as much as any plague has ever done.

There have been more than 4,300 cases and 2,300 deaths over the past six months. Last week, the World Health Organization warned that, by early October, there may be thousands of new cases per week in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Nigeria. What is not getting said publicly, despite briefings and discussions in the inner circles of the world’s public health agencies, is that we are in totally uncharted waters and that Mother Nature is the only force in charge of the crisis at this time.
I think this guy is speaking too soon about airborne mutations. It's like wondering whether penguins could fly in the next 50,000 years. But, still, if we start to see millions of cases of Ebola, the odds of the average onset of symptoms lengthening and asymptomatic infectivity could increase.

http://www.eurosurveillance.org/View...rticleId=20899
Quote:
The exponential growth in case numbers during an outbreak also makes resource-intensive activities like contact tracing and surveillance increasingly difficult. Recent studies, including the one by Nishiura et al. in this issue, suggest that the reproduction number of Ebola (the average number of secondary cases generated by a typical case) is between 1.5–2 in some countries [8,9]. Based on the durations of incubation and infectiousness of EVD [3], it is plausible that the number of cases could therefore double every fortnight if the situation does not change. There are currently hundreds of new EVD cases reported each week; with the number of infections increasing exponentially, it could soon be thousands. Following up contacts and monitoring them for symptoms has already become unfeasible in areas where health authorities are stretched to the limit.
emphasis added
(The reproduction number of Ebola going under 1.0 would mean it is being contained. Now it is at 1.5-2.0 )

If you're thinking of vacationing to the developing world (India, Mexico City, etc), you might want to do it before December because international air travel might look very different in 2015....
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