Episode 233 – Ebola: Stop Panicking, Here’s Why

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-= PODCAST TOPICS =-

Ebola – Why you need to stop panicking about it. This was just the outline for the podcast. Be sure to listen for a greater perspective on this topic.

  1. Some general points:
    • To listeners, please stop panicking. To the bloggers that listen to this podcast, please stop panicking people with click-bait articles.
    • Ebola is one of several Viral Hemorrhagic Fever (VHF), including the Reston Virus, Marburg, Lassa fever, Dengue hemorrhagic fever, and others. In fact, the Hantavirus is a Hemorrhagic fever virus that has a 40%-50% mortality rate. It’s been in the US for quite a while, with more cases every year, but no one is panicking about that.
    • At this point, Ebola is not “going exponential.”
      • If it was, there would be far more deaths than we’re seeing now (so far, under 1000).
      • According to the CDC on August 6, 2014:
      • “… a cumulative total of 1711 suspect and confirmed cases of Ebola virus disease (EVD) and 932 deaths, as of August 4, 2014. Of the 1711 clinical cases, 1070 cases have been laboratory confirmed for Ebola virus infection.”

        • This has been since the outbreak started in February.
      • The concern is that about 1000 people have died from this, so far, in the past 5 months. I’m sure that number will climb higher, but let’s put this into perspective. In the US, 119 people die everyday from traffic accidents. That’s over 3600 every month, or more than 43,000 each year. You are more likely to die in a car accident while worrying about Ebola, than you are from the virus itself.
      • Looking at the chart put out by Zero Hedge. The numbers aren’t exponential. It looks more like this is a large tick upward due to a significant number of cases suddenly being discovered.
      • Back during the SARS pandemic, I plotted the cases around the world and saw a similar trend. It looked like it was escalating “off the charts,” but instead, it simply died out. That’s what I think we’re going to see with this eventually.
      • As a fact, we know that there are probably more people with the Ebola virus than we already know about. If we were to discover a rural village where most, or all, of the people were infected, dead or dying, the chart would suddenly increase even more. To the casual observer, without the benefit of perspective, it would look like there was a massive increase in cases and we were going to all die from it soon. When in fact, it was simply a discovery of cases that had already existed.
    • It’s not an issue to bring someone to the US that has Ebola. With the proper equipment and procedures, it can be controlled.
    • Media is hyping this well-beyond their normal hype.
      • An Example of misleading headlines:
    • The Reston virus, often referenced from the book, “The Hot Zone” is not an Ebola virus. It’s similar, but it only affects monkeys. To be clear, though it is a level-4 organism, the Reston virus is non-pathogenic to humans, only monkeys.
  2. Ebola is a serious disease.
    • I don’t want there to be any confusion over this. Ebola is a very serious disease and catching it is, most likely, a death sentence.
    • However, the epidemic happening in Africa is not the same thing as a pandemic flu beginning to spread. Cultural conditions in Africa are not the same as they are here. Staying aware and being educated on facts about Ebola will go a long way to keeping you safe.
    • Ebola will probably come to the US. The head of the CDC told Congress today that it’s inevitable. It still doesn’t mean we’re all in danger; it simply isn’t to that point yet, and probably won’t get to that point.
  3. Ebola – More reasons to stop panicking about it.
    • What are the signs and symptoms?
      • Actually, I’m not going to go into these; the symptoms mimic many other diseases and there’s no need to worry if you have it.
      • Honestly, the odds of someone getting Ebola in the US, at least for right now, is zero.
      • If you want to know the S&S, see the links below.
    • How is it transmitted?
      • FIRST AND FOREMOST, it is not airborne, like the flu.
        • If it was airborne, it would be a completely different scenario. And unless it does go airborne, it really isn’t much of a threat to us here in the US.
        • In fact, if it were to become a pandemic, it would be one of the better diseases to deal with, simply because it’s not airborne, keeping away from it is far easier.
        • There are many things that “might” happen, and this is a common scare tactic on many websites  including, sadly, many prepper sites. As example, malaria “could” go airborne, HIV “could” go airborne, rabies “could” go airborne – Any of these diseases would be horrific if they were to become airborne transmittable – but it’s not likely to happen.
        • It doesn’t magically get absorbed into your skin. Skin is a very good barrier, and the virus needs to get into a cut, open wound or body orifice in order to infect you.
      • It is transmitted via direct contact with an infected person, or through infected objects, like needles. It is not water-borne, nor food-borne.
      • If you’re in Africa, you might get it from bush meat, but otherwise, it’s not an issue. Apparently, like most viruses, if you cook the meat, you kill the virus.
      • The WHO is fairly specific on how diseases are transmitted. They stop short of saying that Ebola can’t be transmitted by mosquito or sneezing, though. It’s likely that there hasn’t been any cases where it’s been transmitted by these means.
      • There really hasn’t been enough study on real-world Ebola cases, we’re still learning.
    • When is someone with Ebola contagious?
      • Typically, a person isn’t contagious until they start showing symptoms.
      • This makes it fairly easy to stay away from those that may have it.
    • How to protect yourself from Ebola:
      • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – Mask, gown, gloves, boots, face shield
      • Maintain social distancing around people, especially anyone who is sick. Which is good advice in general.
        • Social Distancing:
        • Staying away from public places, including church, malls, sporting events.
        • Stop handshaking, hugs, and other physical greetings. Fist bumps would be better, but even those should stop.
        • Encourage people to cover their mouths for coughs and sneezes, and to wash hands frequently.
        • Avoid semi-public spaces, like water coolers, coffee, break and kitchen areas at work.
        • Basically, you want to keep the distance between you and others as far as comfortably possible. Six feet would be a minimum. Twenty feet is better, though more difficult to obtain, especially in urban environments.
    • Why is it an issue in Africa?
      • First and foremost, it’s the host country of Ebola. Scientists aren’t fully certain where Ebola comes from, though they are fairly certain fruit bats and non-human primates are an early part of the contagion process.
      • This is why bush meat is an issue, as this is most likely how an Ebola epidemic starts.
      • However, as we learned from Steve Aukstakalnis in Podcast Episode 230, the big reason for the spread of Ebola in Africa is cultural. Touching and washing dead bodies is commonplace and a primary reason people are getting infected. It’s important to understand this point. The African culture, particularly in the rural villages, is the primary reason for the spread of Ebola among people.
      • Many people are treated at home and not brought to a hospital, so the chance of spreading the virus is high.
      • One of the issues that spooks some people, is the large number of healthcare workers that can become infected. Again, I’m going to guess the reason for this is the lack of proper infection control. Many of these hospitals are so poor they have to share medical equipment, including needles, and oak proper sanitation. When you have a lack of sanitation and infection procedures, you’re bound to have many medical staff becoming infected.
    • Like most things, this Ebola outbreak bears watching. Ebola is a very nasty virus and something to avoid at all costs. However, at this time, there is no real danger to you if you’re not in Africa or traveling in close proximity to those that recently have been.
  4. What can you do?
    • This current Ebola situation does provide a very realistic “what if” scenario to consider. Not so much if Ebola goes airborne, but are you prepared for a pandemic flu?
    • Without panicking, start bulking up on your pandemic supplies (if you can find them and are willing to pay the price):
      • Masks
      • Face shields
      • Tyvek gowns or suits
      • Gloves
      • Boots
    • Other things you can do include maintaining good hygiene practices, learning to avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth unless your hands are clean, and practice social distancing.

Reference Links

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4 Responses to Episode 233 – Ebola: Stop Panicking, Here’s Why

  1. Pingback: Prepper News Watch for August 8, 2014 | The Preparedness Podcast

  2. Hello Rob,

    There are some things that are incorrect on this podcast:

    About your statement of EBOLA NOT BEING AIRBORNE is also inaccurate although not entirely erroneous.

    1. The Canadian “CDC” version called PUBLIC HEALTH AGENCY OF CANADA states & report on their website @ this link: http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/lab-bio/res/psds-ftss/ebola-eng.php …the following:

    EBOLA
    PATHOGEN SAFETY DATA SHEET – INFECTIOUS SUBSTANCES

    In the laboratory, infection through small-particle aerosols has been demonstrated in primates, and airborne spread among humans is strongly suspected, although it has not yet been conclusively demonstrated (1, 6, 13)

    From other sources: It can take 1-10 drops of sweat or saliva to infect a human through an open port of entry (i.e. mucous membranes, eyes, nose, nick or cuts, sores, abrasions, etc.)

    2. You mentioned that Reston Virus that affected Reston, Virginia, USA near Washington, DC in 1989 is “Not Ebola” – that statement is incorrect. Although Reston Virus in NON PATHOGENIC to humans it is one of five strains of known Ebola viruses.

    1st Quote: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reston_virus
    It is the single member of the species Reston ebolavirus, which is included into the genus Ebolavirus, family Filoviridae, order Mononegavirales.[2]

    2nd Quote: http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/lab-bio/res/psds-ftss/ebola-eng.php

    Five Ebola subtypes have been identified: Zaire ebolavirus (ZEBOV), which was first identified in 1976 and is the most virulent; Sudan ebolavirus, (SEBOV; Ivory Coast ebolavirus (ICEBOV); Ebola-Reston (REBOV), and Bundibugyo ebolavirus (BEBOV) (1, 3, 8, 9). Reston was isolated from cynomolgus monkeys from the Philippines in 1989 and is less pathogenic in non-human primates. It was thought to be the only subtype that does not cause infection in humans until 2009, when it was strongly speculated to have been transferred from pigs to humans.

    3rd Quote: Subtype Ebola-Reston manifests lower levels of pathogenicity in non-human primates and has not been recorded to be infectious in humans; however, sub-clinical symptoms were observed in some people with suspected contact after they developed antibodies against the virus (8).

    About Exponential Growth: http://mathbench.umd.edu/modules/popn-dynamics_exponential-growth/page15.htm

    Quote: Viral growth
    A virus will typically spread exponentially at first if there is no immunization available. Each infected person can infect multiple new people. SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and Ebola are two such viruses whose impact to affected areas can be devastating. Knowing the rate at which they typically spread is important when you are trying to contain and treat an outbreak.

    Although there are many fewer cases of Ebola than SARS at the start of the outbreaks, the different growth rates means that the Ebola victims eventually outnumber the SARS victims. How many days before this happens? It’s possible to solve this mathematically, but you can also look at a graph:

    (please refer to exponential growth graph of Ebola vs. SARS @ the website)

    Lastly from other sources: This particular Ebola of West Africa appears to have adapted to humans because as you say typical Ebola kills 90% of cases however I heard and/or read and/or saw somewhere that this particular strain is killing ONLY & ONLY 60% of the people which does not allow the Ebola virus to die off quickly as the other past cases. This fact plus compounding the cultural differences has allowed this West Africa Ebola to flourish longer than usual. The 2 Americans used Standard Precautions but it was useless against the West Africa Ebola.

    Keep up the good show. I like the presentation of the toxin in the water of Ohio.

    Say Hello to Steve of Threat Journal who spent many years in Charles Taylor’s Liberia.

  3. Pingback: Prepper News Watch for August 11, 2014 | The Preparedness Podcast

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