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As promised to readers last week, today’s subject is about the Ebola virus. Some of the information is unsettling. This Ebola outbreak is presenting much differently than was experienced with previous outbreaks. First responders are calling the outbreak “Ebola virus disease” rather than “Ebola hemorrhagic fever” because not all who are infected present with visible bleeding as was seen during previous outbreaks.
(David’s note: The current media coverage of Ebola is a prime example of “if it bleeds, it leads.” The amount of fear mongering and disinformation being spewed is beyond belief. This article is long, but it’s one that you might want to print out, mark up, and read multiple times so that you can remember it when you hear people spreading unfounded fear and rumors. AND, if you’re basing your fear of Ebola on the movie “Outbreak,” keep in mind that the strain of Ebola in the movie doesn’t exist.)
Is it bad? Yes…sort of.
The following excerpt was reported by the UK’s Mail Online on August 6th, 2014, reporter Anna Hodgekiss, about what Dr. Oliver Johnson is experiencing while attending to Ebola infected patients in Sierra Leone:
‘What is shocking is how healthy the patients look before they die and how quickly they decline.
‘A number of the Ebola patients I’ve seen look quite fit and healthy and can be walking around until shortly before their deaths.’
Dr. Johnson also described the difficulties of working in the country – which is recovering from years of brutal civil war – because many thought the illness was a government conspiracy.
As of Thursday, August 7th, , there have been 1700 reported cases of Ebola, leading to the deaths of 932 people.
(David’s note: To keep this in perspective, there are just under 2,000 global malaria deaths per day, 550 global typhoid deaths per day, and 2,500 motor vehicle deaths per month in the US alone. Again…Ebola is in the news because it bleeds and can be made to sound novel and scary.)
The World Health Organization is reporting that the outbreak is spreading at unprecedented levels in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, which has sparked growing world concerns that air travel may be the vector to spread the virus to other continents as travelers return home after visiting West Africa’s urban hot-spots. Assuming this Ebola outbreak is the same sub-type as previous outbreaks, the virus is not airborne and can take up to 21 days for someone infected to experience symptoms, at which time they are considered contagious.
Over the past few days there have been two reported cases of travelers who had recently returned from affected areas of West Africa, became ill, and subsequently died: one in Saudi Arabia, and the other in Morocco. Patrick Sawyer was the first air travel related fatality tied to the Ebola outbreak and it is now being reported that others have been infected–detailed below.
Reported by U.S. News on August 6th, Associated Press release, A Saudi national , who fell ill after returning from Sierra Leone, died early Wednesday in his hospital isolation ward where he was being tested for Ebola virus, said the Saudi Health Ministry.
Liberian dies in Morocco of Ebola-Internal Affairs Minister discloses as was reported by Heritage, a Liberian based newspaper.
CBS News reports that Ebola plane travel scare has officials on edge on July 29th, 2014. Here is a quick synopsis:
Patrick Sawyer traveled from Liberia, had a stop-over in Ghana, and then changed planes in Togo before arriving at his destination in Nigeria. His plans were to join his wife and daughters in Minnesota after a short stay in Nigeria. However, upon landing in Nigeria he collapsed and died two days later at a medical facility. Just before becoming infected, Sawyer had been caring for his sister who, it was later discovered, died of Ebola.
Witnesses on the same flight as Sawyer have reported that the finance Ministry employee had diarrhea and was vomiting during the flight, which is the vector that may have infected other travelers who came in contact with Sawyer. Immediately after Sawyer arrived at Nigeria, he was put into quarantine.
Fellow travelers were advised about the symptoms of Ebola and were then allowed to leave the airport, joining a population of twenty-one million people.
Even though travelers are being screened for the Ebola virus before being allowed travel, it is suspected that Sawyer didn’t exhibited any symptoms until well into the flight.
An August 4th News Online article reports that a doctor has become the second confirmed case of Ebola in Nigeria after helping to treat a U.S. businessman who died from the disease. The following is an excerpt:
Nigerian authorities said tests were also being carried out on three other people who treated Patrick Sawyer after they reported similar symptoms.
The second case of Ebola in Africa’s most populous country is an alarming setback as officials across the region battle to stop the spread of the disease.
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As stated in a July 26th, 2014 U.S. News Health/Associated Press news release, Nigeria death shows Ebola can spread by air travel, dated July 26th, 2014:
The fact that the traveler from Liberia could board an international flight also raised new fears that other passengers could take the disease beyond Africa due to weak inspection of passengers and the fact Ebola’s symptoms are similar to other diseases.
Officials in the country of Togo, where the sick man’s flight had a stopover, also went on high alert after learning that Ebola could possibly have spread to a fifth country.
Screening people as they enter the country may help slow the spread of the disease, but it is no guarantee Ebola won’t travel by airplane, according to Dr. Lance Plyler, who heads Ebola medical efforts in Liberia for aid organization Samaritan’s Purse.
“Unfortunately the initial signs of Ebola imitate other diseases, like malaria or typhoid,” he said.
* * *
The Ebola Virus Claimed Its First Victims In 1976
As published in CBCNews article, Ebola outbreak in Guinea: 5 things you should know published on March 24th, 2014, there are five distinct strains of the Ebola virus: Bundibugyo, Ivory Coast, Reston, Sudan and Zaire.
According to the World Health Organization, Ebola hemorrhagic fever has a fatality rate of up to 90 percent, but this Ebola outbreak seems to be much less fatal. Claiming that Ebola has a 90% fatality rate is similar to saying that the flu kills 100 million people per year.
As anyone who has had the flu before knows, there are mild strains and nasty strains. The same is true for Ebola, except right now it’s more of a case of “bad” strains vs. “horrible” strains.
The first outbreak of Ebola was in Nzara, Sudan and Yumbuku, Democratic Republic of Congo near the Ebola River in 1976.
Humans first got the virus through contact with the bodily fluids of infected animals. As WHO reports, “infection has been documented through the handling of infected chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats, monkeys, forest antelope and porcupines found dead or ill in the rainforest.”
At this time, there is no known cure for Ebola. However, there are several experimental drugs, one of which was given to U.S. medical workers, who were recently flown to Atlanta for treatment after they contracted the disease.
Previously, outbreaks have largely been concentrated in remote areas of the Congo and Uganda and were far removed from populated urban centers, remaining mercifully within the confines of a single country. This time, it struck Guinea and infected hundreds before it traveled to Liberia and Sierra Leone.
What are the symptoms?
CBCNews states in this same article that three of the five Ebola strains have been associated with Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF), which is characterized by internal and external bleeding. The virus’s incubation period lasts about a week, but can be as short as 2 days or longer than 20 days. Early symptoms can include chills, low-back pain, fatigue, diarrhea and headaches.
As the infection intensifies, individuals with Ebola hemorrhagic fever can experience bleeding from the eyes, ears and nose, as well as the mouth and rectum.
“What happens, in any hemorrhagic fever, is your blood vessels start to leak, and so that’s why you get bruises in the skin,” says Dr. Jay Keystone, a renowned travel physician and professor in the department of medicine at the University of Toronto.
“If your blood vessels are leaking out of the gut, you’re bleeding [out of the] rectum, and if your bleeding is in the stomach, you’re vomiting up blood.”
Illness sets in between two to 21 days after infection. In most cases, the time between the start of the symptoms and death is one to two weeks.
While EHF leads to a lot of blood loss, that’s not usually the cause of death, Dr. Keystone says.
“You die of shock from bleeding, but it’s more than that,” he says. The victim gets a viremia, which is when a virus enters the bloodstream and as a result, gains access to the rest of the body.
“You start to get a breakdown of body function,: Dr. Keystone says. “The kidneys fail, you may get secondary pneumonia. But in this case, it’s an overwhelming infection which causes a breakdown of tissue, release of what we call antigens, and then essentially you get a total body failure.”
Later in the article, Dr. Keystone goes on to say: “The current strain is more virulent.” Even so, he points out that Ebola’s reputation overshadows the actual threat.
What terrifies the public is “the thought that 90 percent of people die,” and that “it kills you within a matter of a few days,” he says.
But Ebola, which has killed about 2,000 people since the late-‘70s, is inferior, in terms of efficiency, to a virus such as the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which “spreads quietly, silently, and millions get infected.”
With Ebola, “all the people who get it die,” he says, which prevents those hosts from infecting more people. (Note: these are not the statistics being reported with this latest Ebola outbreak)
The following are symptoms of Ebola:
- Sore Throat
- Severe Headache
- Joint and Muscle Aches
- Dry, Hacking Cough
- Stomach Pain
- Later Symptoms of Ebola Infection may include bleeding from the eyes, ears, nose, mouth and rectum.
Spread Of Ebola Linked To Improper Barrier Techniques & Sub-Par Sterilization
As e-Med TV explains it, transmission of Ebola can occur through exposure to blood or bodily secretions of an infected person, or through direct contact with the person. During previous and this recent outbreak of the Ebola virus, transmission of the virus in hospitals is reported to be common, especially when patients are cared for without use of proper barrier techniques and sterilization practice.
This necessary barrier is compromised, Med TV explains, while African healthcare facilities treat patients with Ebola without use of a mask, gown, or gloves. In addition, when needles or syringes are used, they may not be of the disposable type , or may not have been sterilized, but are only rinsed before reinsertion into multi-use vials of medicine. If needles or syringes become contaminated with virus and are then reused, numerous people can become infected.
(Ox’s note: in some cases, you’ve got doctors and nurses with more patients than IV needles. If they’ve got a patient who they KNOW is going to die if they don’t get an IV, it’s a calculated risk to try to sterilize a needle that was being used on an Ebola patient who just died. When they die from Ebola, they’re reported as an Ebola death…not as someone who was going to die from something else but who was given a stab-in-the-dark chance to survive.
It’s important to realize that the medical conditions and practices aren’t like they are here…even if the doctors and nurses are American. These are austere, sub-par conditions and they’re doing the best that they can with what they’ve got.)
What the CDC Has To Say
In The Washington Post article, CDC director: Ebola is “out of control” in West Africa but can be stopped, dated August 3rd, 2014, reporter Katie Zezima quotes Tom Frieden, the director for Disease Control as saying; “The plain truth is that we can stop Ebola. This week. We know how to control it.”
An excerpt from this article touches upon one of the culprits of the spread of Ebola:
Frieden said the CDC will put 50 staff members on the ground to help contain the outbreak. Ebola, he said, is contracted only when people come into contact with the bodily fluids of infected people or handle the body of someone who died from the disease. Burial practices in the affected countries often involve family members touching the body of an Ebola victim.
Frieden went on to say that the virus can be transmitted only by people who are showing symptoms. Those who may have it but have not gotten sick cannot pass it to others.
U.S. Health workers Arrive at Atlanta, Georgia Emory University Hospital ForTreatment
Nancy Writebol, a hygienist who decontaminated patients entering and leaving an Ebola treatment area and Dr. Kent Bradly who treated West African patients were flown to Atlanta for medical treatment when they became infected with the virus. Their transport and arrival in Atlanta had some concerned that the virus may spread here on U.S. Soil. Before the plane departed, authorities were quick to explain that Whitebol and Bradly would remain on board the Gulfstream transport in an Aeromedical Biological Containment System which has multiple layers that prevent the patient from coming into contact with others, including care givers.
Writebol and Bradly have each received an experimental medication, ZMapp, to combat the Ebola virus. Health givers report they are making significant improvements.
If Ebola Reaches the U.S.
In short, it has, and there’s not a lot to worry about right now. IF the virus mutates and begins to spread between humans through the air, like the flu, then we’ve got a serious issue. It’s happened in monkeys, but that doesn’t mean that it will or won’t happen in humans.
In the off chance that an airborne outbreak does occur in the U.S. It would be advisable to stay at home if at all possible–which means having enough food and water to see you through for several months. Just as with a natural disaster such as Katrina or Sandy, food and water will disappear off grocery shelves soon after a CDC or government advisory is made concerning an outbreak.
If for any reason you cannot remain at home, keeping a barrier between yourself and those who may be infected is mandatory. The CDC reports that contact with bodily fluids or secretions such as urine, blood, sweat, feces, vomit, seamen and saliva must be avoided to keep from contracting the Ebola virus. Public transportation, public bathrooms and public water fountains must be avoided, as should public gathering spots such as restaurants, movie theaters, or sports events.
In a worse-case scenario, mandatory quarantines may go into effect, which was written into law in 1944, and is overseen by the CDC. At one time, the U.S. Had 55 quarantine stations across the nation, but since that time the number was reduced to 8 and over time shot back up to 20 with the threat of bioterrorism and the 2003 SARS epidemic. If you would like to see the map, click here for he CDC Quarantine Stations Map.
What is your stance on Americans being flown from West Africa to the U.S. to be treated for Ebola? Do you believe public fears of Ebola spreading to other continents is rational, or paranoia? Please sound off by commenting below.
God bless and stay safe,
David Morris and Survival Diva