Ebola Outbreak in West Africa

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by FGRSK8, Jun 22, 2014.

  1. FGRSK8

    FGRSK8 In Search of a Lost Chord

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2002
    Messages:
    15,033
    According to the latest news this outbreak is now out of control.

    My neighbor next door teaches nursing and she said that this could get very very bad.

    Ebola is a hot virus and spreads quickly. It has entered urban areas now which means it can spread far and wide.

    She feels that it will eventually go to the top of news stories in the next several weeks, even eclipsing the mess in Iraq.

    Paging Stephen King..... :(
     
    once_upon and (deleted member) like this.
  2. zippy

    zippy Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2002
    Messages:
    566
    I used to live in Guinea very close to where this outbreak began and was actually there visiting at the start of the outbreak. It's very upsetting and worrisome, but as of now it pales in comparison to other (less glamorous) constant scourges like malaria and diarrhea. The Guinean healthcare system is really unprepared for something like this and would be easily overwhelmed by it. There have been longstanding problems with weak governance and corruption and when you get out to the rural areas, local politics start to dictate which clinics get stocked with limited supplies, which never included the kind of protective gear needed for this kind of hemorrhagic virus anyway. This is where a group like MSF can really help with their specialized equipment and organized clinics, but they can't be everywhere and at least one of their clinics had to be shut down temporarily because of rioting youth.

    I'm not surprised it has spread throughout the country and abroad since there is a lot of mobility between the cities and villages. And unfortunately, I'm hearing that it's been difficult to educate people in some regions about how to protect themselves from it, because there's a belief that ebola is a made-up conspiracy by President Conde and his party to delay some political proceedings, or even purposely introduced by the west to do harm. So some cultural practices that put people at risk for ebola (certain funeral traditions, marriage structures and consumption of bats and other bushmeat) are more difficult to adjust.

    Still, I'm actually relieved it's not worse at this moment - I always thought of previous outbreaks in central Africa being limited by taking place in such isolated villages that I was afraid it would just explode in such a populated place. The recipe for disaster is certainly there, but at this moment it still really doesn't hold a candle to what malaria causes.
     
  3. Anita18

    Anita18 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2001
    Messages:
    11,074
    I agree with zippy. Ebola is actually not that contagious compared to a lot of deadly diseases. You have to touch blood or bodily fluids, which is why cultural traditions are a huge factor. In the US (not sure about Western countries but it's probably similar), we are so grossed out by the blood and spit (and other things) of strangers and animals, I don't see how it would spread that quickly here.

    It doesn't specify in the articles, but I'm also guessing that a lot of the victims in West Africa are healthcare workers or caregivers, who have to come into contact with blood and bodily fluids. Or people who work with infected animals.

    I have no doubt that Ebola will jump to the top of the headlines, because it feels as inevitable as a shark attack. And just as rare, compared to things like malaria, pneumonia, TB, diarrhea, etc. Also, because of its high fatality rate and the fact there's nothing you can really do about it besides provide support for the body to fight it itself. If there was an algorithm for producing the most headline-getting disease, Ebola would be it. That or mad cow disease. (If you want to give yourself nightmares tonight, read about prions!)

    And like zippy mentioned, because it requires so much clinical support and isn't as easy as giving antibiotics one time, I can definitely see how ebola can overwhelm a country with limited healthcare resources.
     
  4. zippy

    zippy Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2002
    Messages:
    566
    I found a couple of interesting articles on the subject:

    Through the looking glass: Guinea, Ebola and life before germ theory
    (some background on the virus and cultural attitudes affecting the epidemic)

    Dispatch from Guinea: Containing Ebola
    (a human perspective that highlights the sad fact that this virus punishes close, loving families the most)

    That's a good point - if nothing else it would be easier to follow procedures for containment in the US. Part of the problem that causes ebola to spread would be pretty universal (at least some physical contact with deceased or dying relatives is pretty normal in many cultures), but in those articles above it mentions families somehow being allowed to take home their loved ones to die at home, and others being hidden in the woods and not alerting authorities. That kind of distrust for the medical establishment and competing cultural beliefs, and the lack of ability to enforce policies, wouldn't be a factor as much. As for bodily fluids, there are definitely some differences in norms and realities that might play a role, but luckily it seems that Ebola isn't very transmissible until the person is showing symptoms. That doesn't protect healthcare workers though, as you say. Another factor would be the differences in quality control when it comes to meat. It's totally not legal or normal to sell meat from a dead animal you found in the woods in the US, for instance. But in Guinea there's a big and completely informal market for meat from hunters, and honestly it's the best meat around. No way to know if it ate an infected bat before it made its way to your dinner plate, though.

    So true - there's something about Ebola that has a way of capturing the imagination in a horror movie kind of way, but it's probably based on some kind of Hollywood version not entirely based on reality. I remember a high school teacher of mine gleefully telling us that Ebola was going to wipe out mankind and that it "liquifies the organs". And then mad cow disease has me wondering about hamburgers I ate 12 years ago. I do wonder as this outbreak continues, if the Ebola virus will evolve to become less virulent and maintain a low level of endemicity like Lassa fever does. In any case, Guinea is a beautiful country coming off some tough years, so it's sad to see this happening. But life is certainly going on as normal right now.
     
  5. Buzz

    Buzz Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2001
    Messages:
    16,819
  6. leesaleesa

    leesaleesa Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2010
    Messages:
    674
    Ebola is a minute drop in the bucket compared to Malaria, which is difficult to avoid in sub Saharan Africa in particular.

    http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs094/en/.

    Less than one thousand deaths in one year compared to over 600,000 for Malaria. Malaria doesn't have the glamorous Hollywood movie case fatality rates, but it's far deadlier because the chain of infection is difficult to control and widespread. Very few become exposed to Ebola, but millions contract Malaria. I blame the "Hot Zone" and the exploding nun sensationalism contained therein.

    Ebola case fatality rates from 1976-2012-

    http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs103/en/

    The Zaire strain is the hottest. Last time it broke in DRC, the case fatality rate was down to 44%. Still incredibly high, but it doesn't infect enough people for all these gloom and doom pandemic scenarios.
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2014
  7. moebius

    moebius Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 26, 2002
    Messages:
    1,420
    But the chances of surviving an Ebola infection is much less than malaria.
     
  8. Buzz

    Buzz Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2001
    Messages:
    16,819
  9. Buzz

    Buzz Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2001
    Messages:
    16,819
  10. Gazpacho

    Gazpacho Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 25, 2002
    Messages:
    5,332
    Dr. Khan has died :(

    http://www.cnn.com/2014/07/29/health/ebola-doctor-dies/index.html
     
  11. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2005
    Messages:
    17,406
    What I heard on the news, this morning, is that the location makes it so much worse. Typically ebola outbreaks are in remote areas with little traffic, in an out of the area. However, it is now in a fairly high traffic area, and it can take 3 weeks to incubate. Therefore people who have been exposed, have traveled on to other places. There was also concern about air travel, since there are (at least 2) cases where people have flown and then gotten sick.
     
  12. Buzz

    Buzz Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2001
    Messages:
    16,819
  13. Buzz

    Buzz Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2001
    Messages:
    16,819
  14. leesaleesa

    leesaleesa Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2010
    Messages:
    674
    Your chances of surviving a shark attack are much less than surviving a dog attack. Your chance of being attacked by a shark is pretty slim. Those 600,000 annual malaria deaths are especially taking a heavy toll on children. Malaria just ain't glamorous. Google Peter Piot-He was one of the original researchers to isolate the virus, and a better source of information than the sensationalist media.
     
  15. Holley Calmes

    Holley Calmes Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2006
    Messages:
    3,860
    Now we have 2 US humanitarian workers afflicted with Ebola being flown to....my home. Atlanta. Mainly, Emory University Hospital which has a very exemplary quarantine unit. God bless these two people, but it's a bit unnerving. I don't care if malaria is worse or other diseases cause more misery. I can believe that. But ebola has been pimped as the worst disease ever by movies and the media, and the fact that it is now in my own back yard is somewhat unnerving. I am of course being reasonable about it, but this thing isn't just in Africa anymore, as much as I trust the Emory folks.....
     
  16. zippy

    zippy Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2002
    Messages:
    566
    Meh - I was chomping away on bush meat and visiting health centers in the same town where the outbreak began, as it began, and I didn't get Ebola. I'm sure the folks at Emory know what they're doing and have planned everything out. I can understand knowing that rationally and still being unnerved about it, though. Honestly I'm relieved the Peace Corps kids are coming home, even though they're disappointed right now. A lot of them feel blindsided by the evacuation but I always figured it was a matter of time before someone was exposed, and then it would be all over for them.

    As for Ebola vs. malaria, malaria (and the even less glamorous diarrhea) certainly kills more people and is a very miserable thing to have. But it's not out of the realm of possibility that the Ebola virus could mutate, become more endemic and become a bigger problem. It looks like this one is a new strain, very similar to the Zaire strain but with a lower case fatality rate. So we can't say for sure how it will behave just yet. I'm hopeful the end of the rainy season will help it die down somewhat, but that's still a few months away.
     
  17. Anita18

    Anita18 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2001
    Messages:
    11,074
    I'm sure Emory is prepared, but I wonder what the reason is for. Maybe Emory has some super-secret treatment they want to try. Ebola is a virus and so the only thing really to do is to support the body while the immune system sorts itself out. Nothing they can't do in Africa, technically.

    And by the time symptoms show, they often go downhill quickly from there. I'm not sure if a long flight is great for an already-weakened immune system, although I'm sure they won't go into normal coach.
     
  18. leesaleesa

    leesaleesa Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2010
    Messages:
    674
    Ebola has been in Atlanta for decades. The CDC has samples they take out to play with now and again.
     
  19. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2005
    Messages:
    17,406
  20. Skittl1321

    Skittl1321 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2007
    Messages:
    11,180
    It's a medical evacuation flight. They will be in basically a flying hospital room.
    As for what they can or can't do in Africa- the area that has the outbreak just doesn't have the medical standards that the US has. Sure there are likely modern hospitals in Africa that could support this; but it just doesn't exist where they are and as a US citizen, I can understand wanting to come home for care. The monitoring is more precise, the supplies less limited (staying hydrated is the #1 way to be able to survive), the conditions more sterile. Not to mention, being closer to family.
     
  21. allezfred

    allezfred Prick Admin Staff Member

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2003
    Messages:
    42,828
    I think you need to take your cue from the second word in your username. :shuffle:
     
  22. Holley Calmes

    Holley Calmes Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2006
    Messages:
    3,860
    Sorry but it isn't pronounced "calm." And I am calm. What part of "being reasonable" did you not get? Seriously, it's the talk of the city. And there have been plenty of reassurances from the medical community. I think it is perfectly reasonable for people to have concerns.
     
    nubka and (deleted member) like this.
  23. allezfred

    allezfred Prick Admin Staff Member

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2003
    Messages:
    42,828
    :fragile:
     
  24. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2005
    Messages:
    17,406
    Flying the two Americans to Atlanta (it's a very controlled environment) doesn't worry me as much as the man who collapsed after he got off his flight in Lagos. Who knows who he could have infected, and where they have been. It can take weeks for symptoms to show up.
     
  25. IceAlisa

    IceAlisa Port de bras!!!

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2002
    Messages:
    30,471
    That was my reaction, especially since the CDC (isn't it right there in Atlanta or whereabouts) wants to try an experimental serum. I think they want to try it, as the patients have nothing to lose at this point, and study the results closely.
     
  26. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2005
    Messages:
    17,406
    Let's hope they do and it works. Let's also hope they will find a vaccine.
     
  27. IceAlisa

    IceAlisa Port de bras!!!

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2002
    Messages:
    30,471
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2014
  28. Holley Calmes

    Holley Calmes Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2006
    Messages:
    3,860
    THIS is the type of thing that produces horror movies. What was that one..."Outbreak?" I read the book too. I love medical mysteries, but.....
     
  29. ballettmaus

    ballettmaus Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2004
    Messages:
    1,691
    Maybe it's precaution? I've read, too, that the virus is contracted via bodily fluids only, pretty much like HIV, however, maybe Ebola is contracted much more quickly, so they have to wear the suits?
    I don't think they'd fly patients to the US if the virus were airborne.
     
  30. myhoneyhoney

    myhoneyhoney Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2004
    Messages:
    1,876
    Could this virus mutate to airborne?