By Lizzie Bennett
Every year a few hundred thousand people across the globe die of influenza. Not an exotic strain, or a new strain that seems hellbent on finishing us all, just regular, common, flu. This year, things could be very different though.
Isolating suspected bola patients who are feverish, coughing and generally feeling crap is one thing, but having the facilities to isolate thousands of people in a given area because they have symptoms that could be Ebola is something else altogether.
This coming flu season, is in my mind, going to be he most dangerous one we have ever faced. This is the one where it’s more than likely, an Ebola sufferer is going to slip through the net. An Ebola sufferer with influenza, or even a common cold is the stuff of nightmares. Every cough, sneeze and wheeze will be spreading not only seasonal flu but Ebola virus at the same time.
Those that have read my musing will already know that Ebola is the disease I fear most. I am not being alarmist, but it is the one disease that so far we cannot cure. Even if the new wonder drug hopeful ZMapp works, it will be months and months before there is anywhere near enough to treat a widespread epidemic, let alone a pandemic of this disease.
Now many people will say that Ebola is not airborne…I disagree. Scientists confirmed a long time ago that all Ebola viruses act in the same way but vary in their virulence. Ebola Reston exhibited airborne transmission as far back as 1990.
Yesterday Kim Paxton reported:
A CDC advisory entitled Interim Guidance about Ebola Virus Infection for Airline Flight Crews, Cleaning Personnel, and Cargo Personnel reveals that the federal agency is concerned about airborne contamination.
The advisory urges airline staff to provide surgical masks to potential Ebola victims in order “to reduce the number of droplets expelled into the air by talking, sneezing, or coughing.” (emphasis mine).
The CDC is also directing airline cleaning personnel to, “not use compressed air, which might spread infectious material through the air.” (emphasis mine).
The CDC’s concern about the Ebola virus being spread via the air is understandable in light of a 2012 experiment conducted by Canadian scientists which proved that, “the Ebola virus could be transmitted by air between species.”
Researchers demonstrated that the virus could be transmitted from pigs to monkeys without any direct contact by placing the two animals in pens separated only by a wire barrier. After eight days, some of the monkeys were found to have symptoms of Ebola likely as a result of “inhaling large aerosol droplets produced from the respiratory tracts of the pigs.”
The results of the study led scientists to conclude that, “limited airborne transmission might be contributing to the spread of the disease in some parts of Africa,” although they cautioned against making comparisons to the airborne nature of the influenza virus.
In addition, the Public Health Agency of Canada’s official website states under a section entitled “mode of transmission,” that “airborne spread among humans is strongly suspected, although it has not yet been conclusively demonstrated.” (source)
The only way to avoid catching any infectious disease is not to go anywhere near a source of that disease. Social distancing, often called self imposed isolation is a sure fire way of avoiding contagion, but for millions of people who are totally unprepared for a crisis it won’t be an option. Most people hold no more than a few days of supplies in their homes and they will venture out to replenish their supplies. This risks not only their own life, but the lives of their families and anyone else who comes into contact with them.
- If Ebola is not brought under control very soon I would expect to see the following this autumn and winter:
- Hospitals overwhelmed with flu sufferers concerned they have Ebola.
- Sporadic cases of Ebola occurring in the West due to people slipping through the net.
- Government bans on large gatherings such as football matches and other sporting events, rock concerts etc.
- Closure of cinemas and theatres, universities and collages followed by school closures.
- A military presence on the street in areas where Ebola has been found to prevent people entering or leaving the area.
- The rounding up and forced detention of the homeless, initially those who sound or look ill then everyone else that is unfortunate enough not to have a permanent address.
- If the situation continues to worsen there will most likely be travel bans in place. These could be international or local depending on the situation.
I have said before that bringing in the military in African countries will not help. They are ill prepared and often badly trained by western standards. They may prevent some people leaving the area, but that won’t stop the migration of this disease. Even shooting a person does not stop Ebola. The body has to be dealt with, and that alone has on hundreds of occasions proved enough to spread the virus.
On the streets of the UK, the USA and in Europe the military option will most likely be somewhat more effective. Our troops are highly trained and have better equipment and for those on the innermost ring of a quarantine area, hazmat suits.
The problem is there is not enough of them. Both the UK and the USA has seen massive layoffs of military personnel and both countries still have troops involved in conflicts outside of their home countries. This will leave any containment areas, particularly geographically distant ones unable to control a large perimeter effectively.
People will get out, fear over their neighbours who are sick, the possibility of their currently healthy families dying will prompt them to head for the hills to wait out the crisis. In reality without a sound plan and enough supplies to wait it out they will at some point have to venture into a town…and the whole possibility of being exposed to infection starts over.
It’s unlikely that any western governments will come right out and admit that they have active Ebola cases showing up at this point. We will see a number of negative results , the false alarms that will lull many into a false sense of security that Ebola is still something that happens in Africa, in countries half a world away. This is a major mistake.
The governments are using normalcy bias to innoculate us against what the future could very well bring. Millions of people are still naive enough to believe that their government wouldn’t lie to them, that they have their best interests at heart.
As I write this Sky News has just announced that the United Nations has just declared ‘The Ebola An International Health Emergency’:
“Countries affected to date simply do not have the capacity to manage an outbreak of this size and complexity on their own,” Dr Chan said.
“I urge the international community to provide this support on the most urgent basis possible.”
…On Thursday, a Spanish missionary priest infected with Ebola became the first person to be treated in Europe during the deadly outbreak.
Miguel Pajares, who contracted it while helping Ebola patients at a hospital in Liberian capital Monrovia, is in a hospital in Madrid after being flown in along with Spanish nun, Juliana Bonoha Bohe, who had been working with him but who has not tested positive.
Has not tested positive…yet.
Doctors without Borders reported many weeks ago that the situation in West Africa was out of control. Maybe, just maybe if the international cooperation that The World Health Organization Director-General Margaret chan is now calling for had been employed a couple of months ago, when doctors first reported the situation was out of control, we may not be facing a winter that could see medical services collapsing under the strain and Ebola emerging in communities around the globe.
ZMapp, the experimental drug being used on Dr Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol is a complicated drug that takes a long while to produce. According to the Mapp Biopharmaceutical website there is very little of the drug currently available and even producing enough for human drug trials will take a minimum of two-three months. Producing enough to treat whole nations is in my opinion currently a target way out of reach. As the treatment is experimental and as only two humans have received ZMapp what, if any side effects are caused by the drug are as yet unknown.
One infected traveller has the potential to infect thousands of people. Symptoms appear differently in different people, for some they are infective before the diarrhea and vomiting stage, at the point when they have a high temperature and are generally achy, just as you are when a cold or flu is coming on. A careful not should be taken of the incubation times for Ebola Zaire:
UP TO 21 days with the mean average being between 4 and 9 days.
People are not infectious until symptoms start to show.
The CDC lists the symptoms of Ebola Zaire as follows:
- sore throat
- muscle aches
- joint pain
- general malaise and weakness
- skin rash
- red eyes
- internal and external bleeding in some patients
Note the words ‘followed by’. In the early stages all the symptoms of Ebola mimic a cold or the flu, as soon as these symptoms show the sufferer is infective. Waiting for the much publicised later symptoms means that the sufferer has been wandering about their business shedding virus before coming to the conclusion that they may have something far more serious that the flu.
Although people do get colds and flu throughout the year they are far more common in the autumn and winter months, as are the noroviruses, the usually non-life threatening ‘winter vomiting bugs’ that appear in hospitals and the community every winter.
By the time that the skin rash and bleeding start, the only two symptoms that are pretty unique to Ebola, (and a couple of other haemorrhagic fevers), it’s game over for the sufferer.
With Ebola showing the same symptoms as both common flu and noroviruses, both of which are exceptionally common in winter, sometimes absenting half a school as the children pass it back and forth between them. Ebola could quite easily be mistaken for either condition in the first instance, slipping through the net until it’s later stages appear and by then it’s too late.
If Ebola makes it to our shores it will explode in winter and I personally see no alternative other than self-imposed isolation.
Delivered by The Daily Sheeple
Contributed by Lizzie Bennett of Underground Medic.
Lizzie Bennett retired from her job as a senior operating department practitioner in the UK earlier this year. Her field was trauma and accident and emergency and she has served on major catastrophe teams around the UK. Lizzie publishes Underground Medic on the topic of preparedness.
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