Friday, August 8, 2014

This ... Scares Me.

Given a background in Biology and Biochemistry, this kinda scares the living bejeezus out of me...

CDC Director: Scale of Ebola Crisis Unprecedented
The current Ebola crisis in West Africa is on pace to sicken more people than all other previous outbreaks of the disease combined, the health official leading the U.S. response said Thursday.

The next few weeks will be critical, said Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is sending more workers into the affected countries to help.
What's frightening about this particular variant is that people are living long enough to travel. The main thing about Ebola was that it was so quick, outbreaks very rarely had a chance to get very far - the hosts would be dead before they had a chance to spread the disease far. With a fatality rate well over 50% (1700 infected, 1000 dead), that's pretty scary.

Now, there's a step back that needs to be taken. According to the CDC, the disease has over a 90% fatality rate. That sounds really freakin' scary, doesn't it? However, if you look at the outbreak data, the true rate is wildly different. In some cases it's as low as 25%. In others, it's in the upper 80s (the three cases with 100% fatality had a single death each).

You do have to wonder about the correlation between survival and the state of medical facilities and/or presence of medical staff in-country. These outbreaks happen in countries that don't have the same sort of medical facilities or treatments available here; what might be only a really bad fever could easily turn deadly with lack of hydration or secondary infection.

In any case, I wouldn't want to be anywhere near Atlanta right now...

That is all.

Another dispatch from...
(image courtesy of Robb Allen)

13 comments:

Brad_in_MA said...

Jay,

I strongly recommend you pick up a book called The Hot Zone. It tells the story of the rise of Ebola, when it first appeared in the mid 1970's. There are a couple different forms of the virus. One is non-lethal to humans, another has a fatality rate "only" 40-50%, and the one that's raging now has a fatality rate of between 80-90%. The bug typically incubates for two to three WEEKS before full-blown infection is observed. While I won't go into detail, the bug literally liquefies human tissue from the inside out, causing patients to bleed out from just about every orifice. Oh . . and the fluids which leak out . . . they're a festering cauldron of millions or billions of more virus particles just looking to infect another host. Oh, did I mention that the US Army keeps Ebola, along with the 1918/1919 influenza, as part of its bio-weapons inventory? Yeah.

Old NFO said...

It IS mutating... and the terrs are looking at any way they can to turn this into a weapon...

libertyman said...

Rest easy, the people who are handling this are experts - Top Men!

You know, the people that recently misplaced all those vials of smallpox and other deadly diseases -- yeah, those guys!

Cormac said...

Has there ever been an outbreak of Ebola in a 1st world nation?
(we still fit that category, I assume...?)

Anonymous said...

Not for long, Cormac, the way this administration is going.

I don't recall any outbreaks in 1st world nations. Something to do with medical protection and sanitation protocols.

Joseph in IL

Dirk said...

I'm in the Atlanta area, and I am worried about it. My brother-in-law works at a CDC location (can't remember which one), though he's part of the physical plant maintenance crew.

I'm not so worried about the CDC screwing up and releasing Ebola, though it's probably something I should be more worried about.

I'm more concerned about terrorists. Old NFO is right - they have to be drooling about this opportunity. Does the CDC have any security beyond some septuagenarian with a taser and a can of pepper spray?

I used to play a super-hero role-playing game a few years back. Our campaign was set in the present-day Atlanta, and we'd often run scenarios based on current events, etc. I sent an email to the group when I heard about the ebola victims being brought here, saying "Sometimes, the scenarios just write themselves..."

Anonymous said...

Don't let the fear mongers get you riled up. Yes, it's a dangerous disease, but you can only be infected by contact with fluids while they are symptomatic. It isn't airborne.

To keep things in perspective, more people die from the flu each year than have been killed by Ebola.

ASM826 said...

So, you get a sick person or a corpse off the street in Africa. Deliberately infect by needle stick your operatives just before they get on the planes for Europe and the U.S.A., That will give you days to move about before you get sick. Depending how committed the operative, he might infect schools, day care centers, or hospitals as well as airports. Send 20 or 30 and you overwhelm the ability to respond.

Just sayin'

dustydog said...

@Libertyman,
Those vials weren't misplaced recently, they were found recently. Someone back in the 60s had properly made and packaged the vials, but then stuck the package inside a storage box. If the box was labeled, the label fell off or faded. Eventually somebody checked the box.

Glenn B said...

"Don't let the fear mongers get you riled up. Yes, it's a dangerous disease, but you can only be infected by contact with fluids while they are symptomatic. It isn't airborne."

That is what they are saying now; however I recall reading about it over the years where they said you could contract it if you were subjected to bodily fluids from a sneeze. Does not matter if it is airborne or not because the virus runs rampant in sweat. Shake a slightly sweaty hand, contract the virus if the guy's hand you shook was infected. They are downplaying it now because these arsehats have brought two infected people into the USA - just begging for a zombie apocalypse. Hopefully nothing bad will happen with it but think about Liberty Man's comment above.

Geodkyt said...

Don't forget -- treating two patients in a First World hispoital, where you are literally located in the same city as a plurality of ALL the world's top Ebola experts, and the doctor-patient ration is approximately "a metric buttload to one", is a far cry from treating patients in field conditions in Africa, where each health worker is dealing with HUNDREDS of poetntial patients.

There's a reason most Ebola outbreaks end up killing at least one Western doctor in the field, but even though people work with Ebola everyday in places like the US and France, people rarely get infected there.

And the fragility of the Ebola family of virii make them a really, really, shitty bioweapon. Weaponizing it for anything much above "panicky annoyance" is serious science.

Ed said...

Remember, medical facilities are posted "gun-free zones" for your protection and safety, so they make wonderful opportunities for those who do not need or heed those stinkin' signs. Let us hope that there are many more rule breaking psychiatrists out there.

If you though that taking a cruise on a passenger ship was risky because of the easily spread viruses, then it may get real interesting real fast.

Charles Lee Scudder said...

You do know I'm 45 minutes from Atlanta right?
It has caused a bit of....tension in family.....all of the doctors in the family specifically.