Ebolapallosa!

>> Thursday, October 16, 2014

OK, for those people out there losing their freaking minds over Ebola and those citing inflammatory articles that say CDC is completely contradicted by the World Health Organization (WHO) and contaminated surfaces (without description) are also possible places of transmission (and these articles cite other non-science articles, I might add, not WHO). They say:

"...wet and bigger droplets from a heavily infected individual, who has respiratory symptoms caused by other conditions or who vomits violently, could transmit the virus -- over a short distance -- to another nearby person," says a W.H.O. bulletin released this week. [1] "This could happen when virus-laden heavy droplets are directly propelled, by coughing or sneezing..."

That same bulletin also says, "The Ebola virus can also be transmitted indirectly, by contact with previously contaminated surfaces and objects."

 This is exactly what I mean when I get angry and media deliberately conflating the risk. DELIBERATELY CONFLATING THIS. Let me quote the actual bulletin referenced:

"Theoretically, wet and bigger droplets from a heavily infected individual, who has respiratory symptoms caused by other conditions or who vomits violently, could transmit the virus – over a short distance – to another nearby person." [My emphasis]

The theoretically is pretty freaking important. But more important is the entire passage this is embedded in:

Not an airborne virus

Ebola virus disease is not an airborne infection. Airborne spread among humans implies inhalation of an infectious dose of virus from a suspended cloud of small dried droplets.
This mode of transmission has not been observed during extensive studies of the Ebola virus over several decades.
Common sense and observation tell us that spread of the virus via coughing or sneezing is rare, if it happens at all. Epidemiological data emerging from the outbreak are not consistent with the pattern of spread seen with airborne viruses, like those that cause measles and chickenpox, or the airborne bacterium that causes tuberculosis.
Theoretically, wet and bigger droplets from a heavily infected individual, who has respiratory symptoms caused by other conditions or who vomits violently, could transmit the virus – over a short distance – to another nearby person.
This could happen when virus-laden heavy droplets are directly propelled, by coughing or sneezing (which does not mean airborne transmission) onto the mucus membranes or skin with cuts or abrasions of another person.
WHO is not aware of any studies that actually document this mode of transmission. On the contrary, good quality studies from previous Ebola outbreaks show that all cases were infected by direct close contact with symptomatic patients.
You'll notice that the passage, as a whole, says effectively the opposite of what the article implies.

The article also talks about contaminated surfaces: Here's the paragraph in the bulletin:
The Ebola virus can also be transmitted indirectly, by contact with previously contaminated surfaces and objects. The risk of transmission from these surfaces is low and can be reduced even further by appropriate cleaning and disinfection procedures.
Well, that sounds scary! What about the plane seat and the handle to the bathroom and the...

Calm down. In the WHO Ebola fact sheet, they kindly provide a definition of contaminated surfaces.
Ebola then spreads through human-to-human transmission via direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people, and with surfaces and materials (e.g. bedding, clothing) contaminated with these fluids.
  Note that "surfaces and materials" means materials contaminated with fluids (which is pretty much the same thing as contact with the fluids) which is, HEY, just what the CDC said. That doesn't mean someone sitting, not vomiting or bleeding or dribbling feces or blowing out barrels of snot has contaminated a plane full of people, especially since she was a nurse, already concerned, who I'm sure made a point not to sneeze directly on anyone. She had a low grade fever, not an eruption of body fluids. Get a damn grip.

But don't take my word for it. WHO has a memo (called, ironically enough, "WHO: Air Travel is Low Risk for Ebola Transmission") dedicated to plane travel where they say:
“Unlike infections such as influenza or tuberculosis, Ebola is not airborne,” says Dr Isabelle Nuttall, Director of WHO Global Capacity Alert and Response. “It can only be transmitted by direct contact with the body fluids of a person who is sick with the disease.”
On the small chance that someone on the plane is sick with Ebola, the likelihood of other passengers and crew having contact with their body fluids is even smaller. Usually when someone is sick with Ebola, they are so unwell that they cannot travel. WHO is therefore advising against travel bans to and from affected countries.
“Because the risk of Ebola transmission on airplanes is so low, WHO does not consider air transport hubs at high risk for further spread of Ebola,” says Dr Nuttall.
 
By the way, if you're interested in the truth, go to the source. I found these WHO pages in less than two minutes. (Also, interestingly enough, even in Africa the mortality rate is 50% which is much better than worst mortality rates [90%] but not as good as the best mortality rate [25%] of past outbreaks.

There is also the UN Mission for Emergency Response Memo which says, gasp, the same thing.
The Ebola virus only spreads through contact with bodily fluids. The World Health Organization (WHO) monitors the virus closely. Viruses do mutate but it is a complex process that takes time. Right now, as advised by WHO, the safest thing anyone can do is avoid direct contact with bodily fluids of people who have Ebola, and with surfaces and materials (e.g. bedding, clothing) contaminated with fluids.

And, of course, the much maligned CDC with their fact sheet:


When an infection does occur in humans, there are several ways the virus can be spread to others. These include:
·        •direct contact with the blood or body fluids(including but not limited to feces, saliva, urine, vomit and semen) of a person who is sick with Ebola
·        •contact with objects (like needles and syringes ) that have been contaminated with the blood or body fluids of an infected person or with infected animals

The virus in the blood and body fluids can enter another person’s body through broken skin or unprotected mucous membranes in, for example, the eyes, nose, or mouth. The viruses that cause Ebola are often spread among families and friend, because they come in close contact with blood or body fluids when caring for ill persons.

During outbreaks of Ebola, the disease can spread quickly within healthcare settings, such as clinics or hospitals. Exposure to Ebola can occur in healthcare settings where hospital staff are not wearing appropriate protective clothing including masks, gowns, gloves , and eye protection.Dedicated medical equipment (preferably disposable, when possible) should be used by healthcare personnel providing care for someone sick with Ebola.

Proper cleaning and disposal of instruments, such as needles and syringes, is also important. If instruments are not disposable, they must be sterilized before being used again. Without adequate instrument sterilization, virus transmission can continue and amplify an outbreak.

If you're keeping score, it says effectively the same thing, in fact is the most alarmist of them all. So, do us all a favor. Calm down.

And, for you media outlets hoping to cash in on the sensationalism by spreading unnecessary fear, you suck green donkey balls. By the way, all my sources are original, cited and linked.

5 comments:

  • Cheryl Carvajal
     

    You are so spirited… and so funny. The media coverage on CNN today became ludicrous. They were actually suggesting the Giants shouldn't go to Dallas to play football, then reminded us that the Cowboys were already in Dallas, and had no choice but to play there. Because ebola is obviously running through the water system as we speak, infecting everyone without their knowledge.

    I think I will stick to vodka for the time being. Russian vodka… unless an ebola breakout happens over there, that is.

  • Stephanie Barr
     

    I saw Jindall (I think he's a politician from Louisiana) trying to prevent the ashes from the ONLY Ebola victim being buried in his state as if the proteins in a virus could survive incineration. He's probably confusing it with arsenic which is, hey, an element.

    He's supposed to be a Rhodes scholar but apparently, to be Republican, you have to check your brain at the door. Though I've seen a few non-Republicans whose brains are also at half mast.

  • Arbitrary007
     

    So, in other words, it's a glorified STD. You only get infected from their body fluids coming into contact with yours. Maybe if they classified it as an STD, they wouldn't be so panicked. (Seriously, how many people have you seen freak out about a possible outbreak of syphilis?)

  • Stephanie Barr
     

    Exactly. I wasted this morning with someone who interpreted these bulletins which are obviously scientists answering a highly unlikely contrived scenario (well, if fluids can cause the problem, what if someone sneezed a wad of snot directly into a stranger's eye) as, Well we can transmit them through airborne means but we didn't want to scare you. He told me CDC/WHO were duplicitous because, though they admitted it's POSSIBLE this could happen, they downplayed the likelihood. How do you downplay the likelihood of something that has never happened?

    I don't even know how to answer that kind of stupidity. If you're set on the answer already, no amount of logic can touch you. You'll only hear what you've already decided was the truth, so this media storm and several apparently unscrupulous politicians have deliberately played on many people's innate paranoia and whipped it into hysteria for profit or political gain.

    Which, in my opinion, is criminally negligent.

  • Stephanie Barr
     

    I'll be writing another post on WHY that's so. This delusion and panic is not harmless. Not by a long shot.

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