I know this is going to fall on few ears via my humble little blog. I also know that it’s likely to fall on quite a few deaf ears as well. But, people, for to those of you buying tickets for the panic train, please, on this entire Ebola issue, start using your heads and stop freaking out.
The fear mongering idiots with their deliberate disinformation want nothing more than to amuse themselves by stirring crap up and watching as you all do the panic dance to their tune. It’s how they get their jollies. It’s how they make themselves feel like they’re better than you, smarter than you, by provoking and manipulating you into acting exactly how they most want you to act. They’re no different than any other form of internet troll. They’re saying something inflammatory or outrageous, likely not believing a word of it themselves, in hopes that someone else will take the bait. And then, once they have you on their hook, they’re just going to keep playing with you and reeling you in for as long as they can.
Let’s look at some basic facts, things I think we can all agree are accurate, and take a look at what they tell us.
Thomas Eric Duncan is the man who came from Liberia to Dallas after having been exposed to Ebola. His exposure is believed to have been from helping his landlord’s daughter try to get into a hospital in Liberia on September 15th. He became symptomatic within 9 days of that event, and sought treatment the first time on September 24th. He was sent home, but later brought back via ambulance on September 28th. He died on October 5th. Over (at the time of this writing) this last weekend, we were informed that a nurse who was helping to care for him has contracted the Ebola virus.
Because the nurse was wearing the required protective gear, the panic trolls have leapt all over this to declare that this strain of Ebola is even more contagious than we’ve been told, the CDC is lying to us, and, laughably, that this proves that this strain is obviously airborne. They even stretch and twist the medical definition of “airborne” to tell us that all it takes is sneezing to infect the room. Anyone, we’re told, will contract this deadly Ebola virus by just touching a table, chair, or doorknob that the infected have touched. However, I’m going to explain to you exactly why the timeline data that we have, combined with what we’ve read of the outbreak overseas and 40 years of observation on the matter, is more than enough information to dispel such notions, allow you to stop some of your hyper-panic, and to confidently tell the panic trolls to shove it up their backsides.
We’ll start with the simple one and look at the nurse. Much is being hyped by the fear mongers and panic trolls about the fact that this woman contracted Ebola despite wearing the proper protective gear. There are two things to keep in mind with this.
-1- There’s this thing called human error that we tend to engage in because we are in fact human. It’s a constant in our daily lives and we tend to see it even when dealing with life or death situations. No human is immune to the effects of human error, not even medical professionals.
I’ve seen law enforcement, rescue, and medical professionals encounter human error with U.P. Protocols before. Sometimes it’s from being too tired, other times it’s from not focusing on what they’re doing. I’ve seen things before as simple as taking gear off in the wrong order expose skin to potential contact with a contagion, and, usually, one of the two above reasons is the cause.
And it’s not as if human error didn’t have enough opportunities here. The patient was being tended to by multiple healthcare professionals for a sustained period of time. That brings us to point #2.
-2- It was not only this one nurse who had been in contact with the patient. There were other healthcare professionals who had been in contact with him. If the U.P. Protocols were insufficient, if the protective measures as prescribed did not in fact protect, there would be more than just one healthcare provider at that hospital infected with Ebola. Or, for that matter, we’d have been reading about far more than just one person being infected.
Again, the fear mongers and the panic trolls are quick to push garbage medical science and declare that this strain is far more contagious than it really is and far easier to catch than the “lying” CDC and other government or official medical sources say it is. They love to repeat the historically disproven “facts” that all you need to do is be in the room with someone with Ebola to catch it or, even better, simply enter a room that they’ve recently been in. You can catch Ebola from a chair, a tabletop, a doorknob, or any other surface that a symptomatic patient has touched. Some even love to promote their junk science sites and talk about how “sources” confirm that this strain is mutating to be an airborne virus or is already such a thing.
This is all utter nonsense, and if anyone swallowing this garbage cared to engage their brain for a few minutes of thought they would realize this in a heartbeat. Again, look at the timeline that we know to be factual.
Thomas Eric Duncan was symptomatic on or just before September 24th. That was within ten days of his believed date of exposure. It’s been roughly twenty days since he first went to the hospital and roughly sixteen days since his return to the hospital.
The patient was originally out in the public and moving around when he was first becoming symptomatic. Health officials have stated that they are monitoring 47 people who range from low risk to extreme risk due to possible contact with Thomas Eric Duncan. But, the catch with that number is that those are merely the people who are deemed to be at any level of realistically possible risk and not every single person he may have been around or every single person that may have been someplace that he had been only a short time before. In a city like Dallas the number of people who would fill that list would be in the hundreds or thousands.
If this were truly a wildfire bug, if this were truly a virus that was as super-contagious as they claim, or, going with the extreme fringe kook rantings for a moment, airborne, Dallas would be a raging hot-zone right now. So far, only one nurse has tested positive for Ebola.
By now, if the fear mongers and panic trolls actually knew what they were talking about, every person that was anywhere near Thomas Eric Duncan when he went to the hospital on September 24th would be infected and showing signs of their infection. Every healthcare provider who saw him would be infected and showing signs of their infection. For that matter, if the fear mongers and panic trolls actually knew what they were talking about, just about everyone who walked into every place he had been in the days before the announcement of his having Ebola would be at this point wildly infected. But, so far, only one nurse has tested positive for Ebola.
For that matter what the fear mongers and panic trolls desperately want you to forget is that they played this song already. They played their “We’re All Doomed!” song once already this year. They were no more accurate when declaring that this was the end back then, or Atlanta, Georgia and Omaha, Nebraska would also be raging hot zones right now. But they’re not, are they? By September 9th, we had airlifted four people into the states for treatment. The same people pressing the panic button now, playing the fear card and screaming that we’re all going to die, were the same people declaring back then that the CDC and WHO were lying, didn’t know what they were doing, and that as soon as these people touched ground in a major US city it was going to be the beginning of the end for us.
They were wrong. They were wrong with their fear mongering, misinformation, and junk science then, and they’re just as wrong now. Atlanta, Omaha, and now Dallas are still functioning quite nicely and still showing no signs of being ground zero locations for a super contagion, airborne or otherwise. And certainly, by every timeline we’ve ever seen with the spread of Ebola up to and including the most recent, they would be hell on Earth right now if the fear trolls knew even a fraction of what they were talking about or if there was more than a superficial shred of accuracy to anything they were promoting.
And the press isn’t helping any. Yes, it’s their job to inform the population, not that they’re particularly good at that job on most days to begin with, but their “Ebola Symptom” headlines are, while arguably necessary, only giving the fear mongers and panic trolls coal for the fires that they so want to stoke.
Every time someone posts the latest alert that someone went to a hospital, in cold and flu season no less, claiming Ebola-like symptoms, please try to remember the following- “Ebola-like Symptoms” in a headline does not in fact equal a new case of Ebola. If that was the case, if it was in fact a case of Ebola for every “Ebola-like Symptoms” headline that’s been shared on social media, most followed by much smaller, less sensational headlines declaring the subjects to be negative for Ebola that are then not shared by the panic pushers, we would be well and truly in an absolutely unmistakable deep end with outbreaks in multiple cities where we would already be seeing multiple deaths.
People can be prone enough to panic as it is. Add in the deliberate hyping of the fear mongering, in some quarters by irresponsible cable news channel hosts and other press outlets, and you tend to see the hypochondriac in many come out rather strongly. So suddenly someone with no Earthly reason to fear having contracted Ebola is convinced that they’ve got it when all they have is the flu. They’re convinced that they’re going to die, that they have a super-deadly virus, but they won’t because they don’t.
Well, unless they’ve got D68. Then they might have caught a deadly bug, a bug that has in just this season alone infected and killed more people in the US than Ebola ever has. But, apparently, a bug named Enterovirus D68 isn’t sexy sounding enough or exotic enough to be pushed by the panic trolls.
Now, I am in agreement with some who suggest limiting or ending nonemergency, nonmedical travel from the West African hot zones to here. The simple fact though is that they won’t do that, not as anything other than an absolute last resort measure to quell fears. But that fact also isn’t something to panic over if you look at the numbers.
When Thomas Eric Duncan was announced far and wide in the news as our first in-country Ebola case, we had, by all reports, screened well over 10,000 people flying into the states from Liberia. Let that number sink in for a moment. Over 10,000 people screened. And only one failure in the process on record so far with even more people screened since then.
Just keeping the number at 10,000 even, that would mean that the screening process has a failure rate of 0.0001%. And, again, it’s statistically less than that since we’re rounding down the number for that moment in time and not including the additional numbers that have been screened since.
And once one slips through as happened here? Those pointing to the devastation in West Africa to promote the model of an Ebola outbreak to which we will all succumb to are comparing apples and leg of lamb.
We’re not West Africa, and the conditions in West Africa that are allowing this outbreak to ravage their people are not present in our country. The worst sanitary failings of our poorest inner cities and isolated podunk towns are still worlds better insofar as providing safe, clean living conditions than what can be found in the areas in West Africa where this outbreak has taken root. The medical treatment centers that are essentially being set up on the fly in West Africa may be modern medical marvels compared to what was there already, but they’re still possessed of far less of the technologies, protective measures, and supplies that can be found in hospitals here in the states. They certainly have barely a fraction of the staff and the treatment space as well. We’re also not facing the starvation issues that some people in West Africa have been facing.
There’s actually an ongoing cause for new cases of Ebola victims that we don’t face here. It’s also a factor that is, not surprisingly, largely unknown to people here and a fact that the panic trolls try to avoid at all costs. There are people who are starving, or near starving, in West Africa. They can’t go down the street to the local Dollar General for cheap foods, they can’t go to the local day-old shop for marked down items, they can’t go to fresh-to-frozen type stores selling foods close to or at their expiration dates for rock bottom prices, and they don’t get food stamps or similar assistance with which to purchase food. Their solution is to turn to bushmeat.
Bushmeat, sometimes called wildmeat, refers to meat from non-domesticated mammals, reptiles, amphibians and birds hunted for food in parts of the world like West Africa. Right now the health experts in West Africa are trying to get the people to stop eating bushmeat, but the problem is that some face eating bushmeat or eating nothing at all. There are also some who simply refuse to listen, but I’ll address that refusal to listen in a bit.
The reason that health experts are telling people not to eat bushmeat is that, in West Africa, this includes apes, monkeys, bats, and others that can be carriers for Ebola in outbreak areas. Indeed, prior outbreaks of Ebola, human T-lymphotropic virus, smallpox, chicken pox, tuberculosis, measles, rubella, rabies, yellow fever, yaws, and simian foamy virus (which is related to issues with HIV-1) have all been linked to the consumption of bushmeat. And we know that there is a quite sizable infected population in what is being harvested as bushmeat in the parts of West Africa where Ebola is at its worst.
We don’t have these problems here. Despite the occasional hyperbolic (or simply delusional) rantings by the punditry that we may see from time to time on American cable news channels, we are not a Third World country, nor are we becoming one. We are quite the opposite of that actually. As such, the worst of our First World problems with matters such as these are largely dwarfed in nature and scope by those in the Third World, and are not in fact anywhere near as likely to contribute to an Ebola outbreak like West Africa’s. In the meantime, our First World medical facilities and lifestyles actually completely remove us from many of the worst issues that would aid such an outbreak being faced there.
Well, all save one. And that one thing is human stupidity acted out as unreasoning fear and suspicion.
Do you know what actually helps the spread of some diseases in parts of the world like West Africa? It’s aided by the fear mongers playing on the unreasoning fears and suspicions of the local population. The local equivalent of the internet junk medical science pushers and panic trolls stand in the center of their towns or their villages and inform all who will listen that the people who are trying to help them can’t be trusted. They inform them that the people telling them what to do to prevent the likelihood of contracting a deadly disease are actually all liars. In fact, just as we’ve seen here on social media over the last month, there’s even the odd nut claiming that the very people who are trying to save lives are really the people who created and deliberately infected the population to begin with.
In West Africa, just as there are here, perhaps even more so, there a loads of people who will happily fall for such nonsense. This mindset results in their not seeking help, not seeking treatment, and acting in ways that run counter to any and all established procedures that could help them avoid catching whatever virus may be in bloom. This is the one thing that we may truly say may be the only major issue we have in common with West Africa when it comes to dealing with possible outbreaks of any sort of contagion. We have the happy misinformation promoters electronically spewing their stupidity all across social media and the rest of the internet, and we have far too many who are just as happy to allow themselves to be whipped up into unreasoning fear and suspicion, to allow themselves to unwittingly be made to dance to a troll’s pied piper tune.
But we shouldn’t be seeing this panic or this foolishness from anyone here in the states. There’s no need for it. The facts of the matter as we’ve seen them so far run counter to ever bit of fear mongering and panic trolling that’s being pushed out there.
Now, this isn’t to say that we shouldn’t be observant, that we shouldn’t be paying attention to what’s around us. This isn’t saying that we’re facing zero threat at all. Of course we are. There’s always a level of threat in any deadly contagion. But the facts, the numbers, do not support the fear mongering and do not show this as amounting to anything that anyone other than someone who has had direct contact with a fully symptomatic Ebola patient should have any true worries over.
We have brains in our heads. I’m pretty sure a zombie or two have mentioned something about this before. We should be using them. I’m going to borrow from one of my wife’s favorite works of speculative fiction for a moment to share a quote with you.
I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
This is absolutely, 100% true; especially with matters such as this. When you act on fear, especially when you give in to unreasoning fear, you slowly (or quickly) give away your capacity for rational thought and decision making. Whenever you do that, you set yourself up so that you make the worst possible choices and do yourself the most possible harm.
We don’t need to do that. There’s no reason to do that with this. And, honestly, we should be better than that, and certainly better than allowing ourselves to be baited and hooked by internet trolls and junk science frauds that get their jollies by making other people scared.