Ebola Makes a Comeback

Not as bad as the outbreak a few years ago that killed more than 10,000 people, but still… Ebola spreads to major Congo city as vaccines a concern.

It has spread to a city in the Congo, which makes health workers worry. And although there is a vaccine (still experimental) there probably isn’t enough of it stockpiled.


Liberia Declared Ebola Free

Liberia was hard hit by the 2014 Ebola outbreak, but they seem to have gotten it whipped. In Liberia, Ebola outbreak is declared officially over – The Washington Post.

Liberia, the West African nation where Ebola claimed the highest number of deaths in the largest outbreak since the virus emerged in 1976, has gone 42 days without any new Ebola cases, according to a statement released by the WHO.

The 42-day period represents double the maximum incubation period for the virus since the last victim of Ebola was buried.

The numbers in Liberia are staggering.

Since Liberia’s latest outbreak began in March 2014, the country has seen more than 3,000 laboratory-confirmed cases of Ebola and another 7,400 probable cases, leading to more than 4,700 deaths, according to the WHO. A total of 375 health workers were infected and 189 lost their lives.

Doesn’t mean it won’t come back. Doesn’t mean that everything is over. The worst is over, but there is a lot of rebuilding to do.

Ebola? It Is the Eeeevil Bankers Fault

Because you know, they insist on things like balanced budgets and repaying of debts. (Never mind they are providing 0 percent loans…) Those evil, evil bankers. IMF policies blamed for weak Ebola response – Telegraph.

The whole thing is completely predictable. So I won’t quote any of it. Even the IMF rebuttal is de rigueur.

But I still think all this focus on Ebola is a focus in the wrong place. Oh, yeah, it is an issue with West Africa, and they need to do something about it. But there are other diseases more likely to kill you. Like TB.

Fewer than 8000 people have died of Ebola in this latest outbreak in West Africa, including the handful that died in the US and Europe.

First, lets look at the global picture on TB.

  • In 2013, 9 million people fell ill with TB and 1.5 million died from the disease.
  • Over 95% of TB deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, and it is among the top 5 causes of death for women aged 15 to 44.
  • In 2013, an estimated 550 000 children became ill with TB and 80 000 HIV-negative children died of TB.
  • Globally in 2013, an estimated 480 000 people developed multidrug resistant TB (MDR-TB).

Of those 480,000 MDR-TB cases, approximately 9 percent were Extremely drug-resistant TB, or XDR-TB.

In the US, things are better, but there were still more than 9500 cases of TB reported in the US.

There were 536 deaths from TB in 2011, the most recent year for which these data are available.

Paying attention to things that can kill you is probably important, and probably worthy of news coverage, but why the coverage of one and not the other?

UPDATE: I am not alone in my concerns… Beware The Silent Killer: Influenza.

Now that the media have finished with the luridly reported and absurdly exaggerated concerns about Ebola in the U.S., they might wish to consider a genuine imminent threat to our health: influenza.

The “flu,” which is marked by high fever, muscle aches, malaise, cough, and sore throat, is transmissible through airborne droplets and is so infectious that after an airplane sat for three hours with its engines off and no air circulating, within three days, 39 of the 54 people on board contracted the flu, infected by a single passenger.

And it can kill you.

From the 1976-77 season to the 2006-07 season, flu-associated deaths in this country ranged from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Worldwide, flu kills about 250,000-500,000 annually.)

Ebola Virus Has Traveled to Mali – To Early to Say How Bad This Will Be

More bad news on the Ebola front. Mali’s first Ebola case, a two-year-old girl, dies – officials.

Mali is one of the poorest countries in the world, and is probably not equipped to handle an outbreak of this disease.

The girl had travelled with her grandmother hundreds of kilometres by bus from Guinea via Mali’s capital to the western town of Kayes, where she was diagnosed on Thursday. Health workers were scrambling to trace hundreds of potential contacts in a bid to prevent Ebola taking hold in Mali.

She was symptomatic for at least 3 days before being diagnosed, and was contagious during that time. That three days included the bus journey.

Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) are rushing an emergency team and supplies to Mali.

This Whole Traveling Nurse with Ebola Thing Just Keeps Getting Better

Now it looks like she may have been sick as far back as Friday last. Nurse may have had Ebola symptoms longer than thought – CNN.com.

The nurse who recently was diagnosed with Ebola, has said she now didn’t feel well a few days earlier than the day she got on the flight. And since she didn’t have a fever, she didn’t connect it to Ebola and her care of the patient who died in Texas of the disease.

Frontier now says it is notifying up to 800 passengers total, a figure that includes those on last Friday’s Dallas-to-Cleveland flight, the return flight four days later, plus five subsequent trips taken by the plane used in that last flight.

And now “12 confirmed contacts of Amber Vinson in Ohio … are currently under quarantine,” according to Summit County’s assistant health commissioner Donna Skoda. They include at least two people who worked at a bridal store, where the 29-year-old nurse went as part of her wedding planning.

I get that if the average citizen walks in off the street there are certain things that would point to Ebola. (Fever, etc.) But for someone who was caring for an Ebola patient that might need to be a different set of criteria. Lower fever. etc.

It won’t do for the entire health-care community to become hypochondriacs, but a bit of paranoia about their own health – especially if they have been working in an Ebola treatment facility – might actually be healthy. And relying on the .gov for guidance is clearly a losing proposition.

Another Nurse Has Ebola – Flies from Ohio to Texas

I wondered if they would call this another breach of protocol. They can’t, because it wasn’t. It was perfectly OK to allow a nurse who had cared for the now-dead Ebola-patient in Texas to fly on a commercial airliner even though she had a fever. She had the sense to ask the CDC, but the not sense to ignore them. U.S. health official allowed new Ebola patient on plane with slight fever | Reuters.

And here I thought fever was one of the early indications of Ebola. Especially in people you suspect might have been exposed to Ebola. Silly me.

A second Texas nurse who has contracted Ebola told a U.S. health official she had a slight fever and was allowed to board a plane from Ohio to Texas, a federal source said on Wednesday, intensifying concerns about the U.S. response to the deadly virus.

A few days ago I compared the Secret Service to the Keystone Cops. The CDC makes them look like a Mensa convention by comparison.

Even the golfer-in-chief can’t ignore this one. He cancelled a bunch of political trips.

Chances that other passengers were infected were very low because Vinson did not vomit on the flight and was not bleeding, but she should not have been aboard, CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden told reporters.

Just like chances were low that we would have cases of Ebola in this country. Because of the level of competence of the CDC/NIH/EIEIO in charge of this clusterfuck.

They are currently running around trying to find everyone on the flight with this Ebola patient. But what about folks in the airport? Rental car bus? Diner? Wherever? How will they notify them?

If we don’t have an Ebola outbreak in this country it will be only due to shear dumb luck. We have reporters too good to stay in quarantine in New Jersey, we have the CDC letting folks we suspect were exposed to Ebola (suspect may be too strong a word) get on a commercial flight. We have the Texas DOT holding up decontamination efforts because the transport permits aren’t in order. “I’m from the government and I’m here to help” – still the scariest phrase in American English.

Because You Can’t Expect Journalists to Live by the Rules

They are special. They do important work. NBC’s medical correspondent ‘violated Ebola quarantine’.

An NBC News crew was ordered under mandatory quarantine for possible Ebola infection after the network’s chief medical correspondent was allegedly spotted on a food run to a New Jersey restaurant, according to a report.

Dr. Nancy Synderman and company were supposed to be on voluntary quarantine after a cameraman contracted the disease. But they decided that they needed take-out.

Because the food in quarantine is just so plebeian. And besides, they are Journalists™, they are better than everyone else.

A spokesman for the .gov says there is no cause for alarm. “Keep calm and carry on.” The quarantine was violated but there is no reason to worry. All is well. Nothing to see here. Move along.

With people like this on the front lines of reporting about Ebola in Africa, it will be no time at all before they are reporting on Ebola in New Jersey, or New York.