Friday, September 19, 2014

Oh Great - Something Else To Worry About

As if containing the spread of the Ebola virus isn't difficult enough, there is now word out of Africa that the natives are attacking those who are there to help.(Note to all you liberals out there - I am using the term "natives" not in the pejorative sense, but rather to denote those individuals who originate from that particular area.)

Eight Killed in Attack on Ebola Team
Eight people, including three journalists, were killed in an attack on a team trying to educate locals on the risks of the Ebola virus in a remote area of southeastern Guinea, a government spokesman said on Thursday. "The eight bodies were found in the village latrine. Three of them had their throats slit," Damantang Albert Camara told Reuters. The killings are an example of what aid officials have been saying: the Ebola epidemic, in which more than 2,600 people have died, is disrupting not only public health but society in general.
This story raises a larger question.

Can the U.S. Army Degrade and Destroy Ebola?
As the Ebola epidemic in West Africa accelerates beyond the capacity to count its toll, an unprecedented escalation in global support is evident, led by U.S. President Barack Obama's call for U.S. military intervention. In what will amount to the largest humanitarian commitment since the American response to the 2004 earthquake and tsunami in Aceh, Indonesia, the White House announced late on Sept. 15 that an estimated 3,000 military personnel will deploy to the Ebola-ravaged West African nation.

 At this moment, Ebola is spreading out of control in three countries -- Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone -- and spillover has resulted in infection in West Africa's powerhouses: Senegal (one case to date) and Nigeria (two distinct clusters of connected cases) ... the spread of Ebola inside Nigeria, particularly in Lagos -- a city with a population of approximately 22 million -- would put the world's epidemic into completely uncharted territory.

Today all epidemic-responding parties characterize the epidemic as "out of control," and in Liberia as "rising exponentially."

The virus is out of all forms of control, spreading in homes, businesses, schools, funerals, markets -- wherever, it seems, people congregate.
To make matters worse, the Ebola virus is mutating: "a recent paper in Science shows that more than 300 mutations have already occurred."
A few days ago, Michael Osterholm of the University of Minnesota suggested in the New York Times that Ebola might mutate to become an airborne contagion. And he warned: "This is about humanitarianism and self-interest. If we wait for vaccines and new drugs to arrive to end the Ebola epidemic, instead of taking major action now, we risk the disease's reaching from West Africa to our own backyards." Osterholm's concern about airborne Ebola mirrors Obama's comments during his Sept. 7 appearance on Meet the Press, when he warned that a mutated Ebola could threaten the American homeland.
It is without a doubt a terrible humanitarian crisis and tragedy. And I agree with obama that it poses a serious threat to America and the rest of the world. Where I disagree is with what is and is not being done.

IMO the very first thing we need to do is to contain the virus. That means a strict quarantine for the entire region. People can go in, but no one comes out. I suppose some exceptions could be made for medical personnel who are tested and placed in a secondary quarantine for a period of time, but that's it. No one else gets out.

As for the 3000 military personnel he is sending, (1) I fear they will be in greater danger than in any combat zone, and (2) similar to the limited number of 'advisers' he is sending to fight ISIS, 3000 is nowhere near enough to get the job done. And now, based on the eight slaughtered health care workers. it appears that security teams will also be needed.
Nothing short of heroic, record-breaking mobilization is necessary at this late stage in the epidemic. Without it, I am prepared to predict that by Christmas, there could be up to 250,000 people cumulatively infected in West Africa. At least 30 nations around the world, I dare predict, will have had an isolated case gain entry inside their borders, and some will be struggling as Nigeria now is, tracking down all possibly exposed individuals and hoping to stave off secondary spread. World supplies of PPEs (personal protective equipment, or "space suits"), latex gloves, goggles, booties -- all the elements of protection -- will be tapped out, demand exceeding manufacturing capacity, and an ugly competition over basic equipment will be underway.
Go read the full story. Very sobering stuff.

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