Ebola In America: The Confirmed Case In Dallas, Texas Could Change Everything

United States Map On A Globe - Public DomainThe day that many of us hoped would never arrive is here.  Ebola has come to America.  Air travel between the United States and the countries of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone should have been totally shut down except for absolutely essential personnel but it wasn’t.  And now our nation may end up paying a great price as a result.  On Tuesday, the CDC announced that there is a confirmed case of Ebola in Dallas, Texas.  We know that this individual is a male and that he traveled by air from Liberia to Texas on September 19th.  At that time, he was not exhibiting any symptoms.  It is being reported that he started developing symptoms on September 24th and that he sought out treatment two days later.  Incredibly, he was turned away and sent home.  Then on September 28th he went to a hospital again and this time he was admitted for treatment.  That means that he could have potentially been spreading Ebola to others for at least four full days before finally getting treated at a hospital.  Now he is in intensive care at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas.  The CDC says that “there is no doubt that we will stop it here” and is promising that “it will not spread widely in this country”.  The CDC better be right on both counts.

At this point, the CDC is admitting that it is not known if others have been infected by this individual.  The CDC also says that it is tracking down everyone that he has been in contact with.  But over four days in a major U.S. city, you can be “in contact” with a whole lot of people.  And what about all of the people that those people were in contact with?

If I was in charge of this crisis, I would admit that we don’t know the full scope of the problem yet but that we are dealing with it the best that we can.

Instead, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is taking an entirely different approach.  Dr. Thomas Frieden insists that we have absolutely nothing to worry about

“I have no doubt that we will control this case of Ebola, so that it does not spread widely in this country. It is certainly possible that someone who has had contact with this patient could develop Ebola. But there is no doubt in my mind that we will stop it here.”

Frieden better be right about that.

Other “experts” are being even more dogmatic

“There is no cause for concern,” says Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine and professor at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. “The Ebola virus is not easily transmitted from person to person, and we have an outstanding infrastructure in place both to contain the virus and trace contacts. There will not be an Ebola epidemic in the United States.”

I have no idea how they can say these things when the outbreak over in Africa is completely and totally out of control.  Despite extreme precautions, hundreds of health workers have gotten the virus, and so far global health officials have not even been able to slow down the exponential growth of the Ebola pandemic in West Africa.

And our health officials should not be so dogmatic about how this virus spreads either.

In a previous article, I discussed a study that was conducted back in 2012 that demonstrated that Ebola could be transmitted through the air between pigs and monkeys that did not have physical contact with one another

When news broke that the Ebola virus had resurfaced in Uganda, investigators in Canada were making headlines of their own with research indicating the deadly virus may spread between species, through the air.

The team, comprised of researchers from the National Centre for Foreign Animal Disease, the University of Manitoba, and the Public Health Agency of Canada, observed transmission of Ebola from pigs to monkeys. They first inoculated a number of piglets with the Zaire strain of the Ebola virus. Ebola-Zaire is the deadliest strain, with mortality rates up to 90 percent. The piglets were then placed in a room with four cynomolgus macaques, a species of monkey commonly used in laboratories. The animals were separated by wire cages to prevent direct contact between the species.

Within a few days, the inoculated piglets showed clinical signs of infection indicative of Ebola infection. In pigs, Ebola generally causes respiratory illness and increased temperature. Nine days after infection, all piglets appeared to have recovered from the disease.

Within eight days of exposure, two of the four monkeys showed signs of Ebola infection. Four days later, the remaining two monkeys were sick too. It is possible that the first two monkeys infected the other two, but transmission between non-human primates has never before been observed in a lab setting.

There is much that we don’t understand about this disease.

I can understand the need to keep the public calm, but why don’t these officials just tell us the truth?

At the same time that they are telling us that there is no chance that there will be an Ebola epidemic in the United States, they are also sending out guidelines to funeral homes on how to deal with dead Ebola victims…

CBS46 News has confirmed the Centers for Disease Control has issued guidelines to U.S. funeral homes on how to handle the remains of Ebola patients. If the outbreak of the potentially deadly virus is in West Africa, why are funeral homes in America being given guidelines?

The three-page list of recommendations include instructing funeral workers to wear protective equipment when dealing with the remains since Ebola can be transmitted in postmortem care. It also instructs to avoid autopsies and embalming.

Why are they doing this if there is “no chance” that the disease will spread widely?

Hopefully they isolated this Ebola patient in Dallas in time.

Hopefully he did not infect anyone else.

But we need to be honest about the situation that we are potentially facing.  So far, there have been more than 6,000 cases of Ebola in Africa and more than 3,000 of those have died.  Unfortunately, even WHO officials admit that those official numbers “great underestimate” the scope of this outbreak.  The number of official cases has been doubling approximately every three weeks, and the CDC says that under a “worst case scenario” we could be looking at 1.4 million cases by the end of January 2015.

Right now all of the treatment facilities in Liberia and Sierra Leone are completely full and more than 80 percent of Ebola patients have been turned away and sent home without being treated.  It is an absolute nightmare, and now it has come to America.

And as the virus continues to spread, it is inevitable that more carriers of the disease will get on airplanes headed for America.

Unfortunately for us, according to a recent Defense One article the screening done at airports actually does very little to stop the spread of Ebola…

The bad news is that thermal screenings of the international flying population at airports are not likely to yield much by way of improved safety.

Here’s why: fever can be a sign of a lot of different illnesses, not just Ebola. And thermal scanning proved to be a poor method of catching bird flu carriers in 2009 as well. So presenting with an elevated temperature at an airport checkpoint does not indicate clearly enough that the fevered person is carrying the deadly virus. More importantly, the incubation period for Ebola is two days. As many as 20 days can pass before symptoms show up. That means that an individual could be carrying the virus for two weeks or longer and not even know it, much less have it show up via thermal scan. So what good are these scanners?

When I first started writing about Ebola, a few people accused me of “spreading fear”.

Well, now that Ebola has arrived in the United States, perhaps they will take a second look at some of my recent articles…

-“The Pure Hell At The Heart Of The Ebola Pandemic In Africa Could Soon Be Coming To America

-“Computer Models Tell Us That This Ebola Pandemic Could Soon Kill Millions

-“16 Apocalyptic Quotes From Global Health Officials About This Horrific Ebola Epidemic

-“Ebola Among Health Workers: More Than 240 Sick, More Than 120 Dead

-“It Is Becoming Clear – We Are NOT Prepared For An Ebola Pandemic

Let us pray that this is just one isolated case and that there will not be a major outbreak in this nation.

Because if cases do start popping up around the country, fear will spread like wildfire and we could potentially be facing the greatest health crisis that any of us have ever seen.

One of the individuals that successfully survived this disease was Dr. Kent Brantly.  I think that the following quote from him really does a great job of summarizing what we are potentially facing…

“Many have used the analogy of a fire burning out of control to describe this unprecedented Ebola outbreak,” Brantly said. “Indeed it is a fire—it is a fire straight from the pit of hell. We cannot fool ourselves into thinking that the vast moat of the Atlantic Ocean will protect us from the flames of this fire. Instead, we must mobilize the resources … to keep entire nations from being reduced to ashes.”

A virus like this could change everything if it starts circulating widely.

Like I have said so many times before, let us hope for the best, but let us also prepare for the worst.

The Pure Hell At The Heart Of The Ebola Pandemic In Africa Could Soon Be Coming To America

Ebola Cases And Deaths - Photo by Leopoldo Martin RDid you know that the number of Ebola cases in Liberia and Sierra Leone is approximately doubling every 20 days?  People are dropping dead in the streets, large numbers of bodies are being dumped into the rivers, and gravediggers can hardly keep up with the the number of corpses that are being delivered to the cemeteries.  As you read this, life is pure hell in many areas of West Africa, and now the CDC is warning that things may get far, far worse in the very near future.  According to the CDC, the number of Ebola cases could potentially soar to 1.4 million by the end of January.  Of course the CDC says that this is a “worst-case scenario”, but for our health officials to even suggest that such a huge number is possible is quite chilling.  We are now being told that the fatality rate for this Ebola outbreak has risen to 71 percent, and so most of the “cases” will eventually turn into deaths.  If we do eventually see 1.4 million cases of Ebola in West Africa, it is incredibly naive to think that it will not spread to other parts of the globe as well.

The World Health Organization has been trying to document the number of cases and deaths that are happening, but at this point even the WHO admits that the official statistics “vastly underestimate the magnitude of the outbreak.

And for the first time, health officials are conceding that this crisis may never have an end point.  A study that was published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine says that Ebola could potentially become endemic to West Africa.  In other words, it could become a disease that is continually spread and that we have to deal with on a regular basis like malaria or the flu.

Hopefully this outbreak will be brought under control shortly.  But at the moment there are no signs that this is happening.  In fact, hundreds of health workers have contracted the disease themselves.  And if current trends continue, the CDC warns that we could see up to 1.4 million cases of Ebola by the end of January

Researchers say the total number of cases is vastly underreported by a factor of 2.5 in Sierra Leone and Liberia, two of the three hardest-hit countries. Using this correction factor, researchers estimate that approximately 21,000 total cases will have occurred in Liberia and Sierra Leone by Sept. 30. Reported cases in those two countries are doubling approximately every 20 days, researchers said.

“Extrapolating trends to January 20, 2015, without additional interventions or changes in community behavior,” such as much-improved safe burial practices, the researchers estimate that the number of Ebola cases in Liberia and Sierra Leone could be between approximately 550,000 to 1.4 million.

Over the past several weeks, there have been numerous reports of dead bodies lying in the streets of major cities over in West Africa.

And now even the WHO is admitting that many Ebola corpses have been dumped into nearby rivers…

“The true number of deaths will likely never be known, as bodies in the notoriously poor, filthy and overcrowded West Point slum, in the capital, Monrovia, have simply been thrown into the two nearby rivers,” WHO said in a separate statement.

No wonder Ebola is spreading so rapidly.

So far authorities have been able to keep this crisis mostly contained to just a few countries.

But what happens when we have over a million people running around with Ebola?

How in the world do we keep that contained?

There are some in the scientific community that are expressing skepticism that we will be able to…

That sort of exponential increase in cases makes it more likely that Ebola will become entrenched in West Africa, said Robert Murphy, a professor of medicine and biomedical engineering at Northwestern University.

If there are hundreds of thousands of Ebola cases, then “many more countries will have cases, and it won’t be just West Africa,” Murphy said. “There is so much mobility now, this can spread anywhere.”

If Ebola continues to spread like wildfire throughout West Africa, it is probably just a matter of time before it starts popping up in major cities in other areas of the globe.

If this were to happen in the United States, life would change for all of us almost overnight.

It is hard to put into words that kind of chaos that we are witnessing over in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone right now.  Panic and fear are everywhere, and the corpses just keep piling up.  The following is an excerpt from a recent New York Times article

The Ebola epidemic is spreading rapidly in Sierra Leone’s densely packed capital – and it may already be far worse than the authorities acknowledge.

Various models of the growth of the epidemic here “all show an exponential increase,” said Peter H. Kilmarx, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention team in Sierra Leone. “The conditions are amenable to Ebola spread.”

“Since last month, it’s every day, any minute and hour, and often, they are coming” to bury the Ebola dead, said Desmond Kamara, a police officer.

A cloudy stream drains from the area of the new graves into the slum, further frightening the residents.

“We are at risk, big risk,” said Ousman Kamara, a resident. “We have made many complaints.”

But the bodies, he said, keep coming.

“Even at night,” he said. “You stand here, and you see them coming.”

Could you imagine something like that happening in America?

At this stage of the crisis in West Africa, all existing treatment facilities are absolutely overwhelmed.

Because there are no more beds, large numbers of people with Ebola are being turned away.  Many end up dying just outside of the walls of some of these clinics

A new Ebola clinic opened in Monrovia this week, but bodies lay on the ground outside its walls. Ambulances filled with Ebola patients, some that have traveled seven hours to get there, are not unloaded. Without help to get them inside, the patients fall in the dirt, mere feet away from treatment.

If things are this bad already when we only have thousands of cases, what are things going to look like when we have more than a million cases?

A representative for Samaritan’s Purse admitted the other day that “it’s too late. Nobody’s going to build 100,000 beds.

And it can be absolutely heartbreaking for health workers to turn away people that are dying.

The following is firsthand testimony from a health worker that is on the front lines of this crisis that is actually having to do this…

The first person I had to turn away was a father who had brought his sick daughter in the trunk of his car. He pleaded with me to take his teenage daughter, saying that whilst he knew we couldn’t save her life, at least we could save the rest of his family from her.

Other families just pulled up in cars, let the sick person out and then drove off, abandoning them. One mother tried to leave her baby on a chair, hoping that if she did, we would have no choice but to care for the child.

I had to turn away one couple who arrived with their young daughter. Two hours later the girl died in front of our gate, where she remained until the body removal team took her away.

Those that are working on burial teams often see things that are even worse.  Just consider the following example

Dressed from head to toe in white protective suits and thick goggles, the burial teams try to stay safe, but nothing can shield them from the unspeakable horrors they’ve seen when they make their regular rounds. On Friday, Kiyee described what he saw when he entered a home:

“I took the key and opened the door and went in and saw a 6-month-old child licking on the mother’s skin,” said Kiyee. The mother was lying on her stomach. She had died from Ebola. The baby was searching for the mother’s milk. “Right away I started shedding tears.”

This is the kind of pure hell that we could see in the United States if Ebola starts spreading here.

Just because we have a more advanced medical system and better living conditions does not mean that we will be able to stop the spread of this virus.

In fact, some medical professionals are already warning that we are not prepared for an Ebola pandemic.

If cases of Ebola do start appearing in major cities throughout America, you will want to be prepared to stay at home as much as possible.  There will not be any magic pill that you can pop that will “cure” you of this disease.  It is a brutally efficient killer that does not show any mercy.

So let us hope that global health officials know what they are doing and that this pandemic will be brought under control soon.

But it would also be foolish not to prepare for the worst.

Computer Models Tell Us That This Ebola Pandemic Could Soon Kill Millions

Ebola Is Coming - Public DomainWe could potentially be on the verge of the greatest health crisis that any of us have ever seen.  The number of Ebola cases in Africa has approximately doubled over the past three weeks, and scientific computer models tell us that this Ebola pandemic could ultimately end up killing millions of us – especially if it starts spreading on other continents.  At first, many assumed that this Ebola outbreak would be just like all the others – that it would flare up for a little while and then it would completely fade away.  But that has not happened this time.  Instead, this epidemic has seemed to pick up momentum with each passing week.  Despite extraordinary precautions, hundreds of health workers have gotten the virus, and the head of the CDC says that the spread of Ebola is “spiraling out of control” and that it is “going to get worse in the very near future.”  For those that have thought that all of this talk about Ebola was just “fearmongering”, it is time for you to wake up.

Right now, the World Health Organization says that we could see the total number of Ebola cases reach 20,000 nine months from now.  But computer models created for the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense are projecting that Ebola could soon be growing at a rate of 20,000 cases per month

The Ebola epidemic affecting West Africa is predicted to last a further 12 to 18 months, according to U.S. scientists.

Epidemiologists have been creating computer models of the Ebola epidemic for the National Institutes of Health and the Defense Department.

The model they have created is a far less optimistic estimate than that of the World Health Organization (WHO), which last month said it hoped to contain the outbreak within nine months and 20,000 total cases.

The New York Times reports that various researchers have said the virus could grow at a rate that could be closer to 20,000 per month.

The WHO is sticking to its estimates, a spokesman said Friday.

Other scientists are even more pessimistic.

For example, a model created jointly by a researcher at the University of Tokyo and a researcher at Arizona State University has produced a “worst-case scenario” of 277,124 Ebola cases by the end of this year

The Eurosurveillance paper, by two researchers from the University of Tokyo and Arizona State University, attempts to derive what the reproductive rate has been in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. (Note for actual epidemiology geeks: The calculation is for the effective reproductive number, pegged to a point in time, hence actually Rt.) They come up with an R of at least 1, and in some cases 2; that is, at certain points, sick persons have caused disease in two others.

You can see how that could quickly get out of hand, and in fact, that is what the researchers predict. Here is their stop-you-in-your-tracks assessment:

In a worst-case hypothetical scenario, should the outbreak continue with recent trends, the case burden could gain an additional 77,181 to 277,124 cases by the end of 2014.

That is a jaw-dropping number.

If we do see an explosion like that, how many millions of cases will we see by the time 2015 is through?

A different model has produced an even more jaw-dropping number.

An “econometric simulation model” created by Francis Smart at Michigan State University is predicting that a whopping 1.2 million people will die from Ebola in the next six months

An econometric simulation model based on the assumption the World Health Organization and others will be unable to control the Ebola outbreak in West Africa predicts 1.2 million people will die from the disease in the next six months.

Six months is the minimum time the WHO projects will be necessary to contain the epidemic.

In his analysis, econometrics research assistant Francis Smart at Michigan State University took seriously the conclusions of Canadian researchers who proved the strain of Ebola in the current West African epidemic could go airborne.

The Ebola virus could be transmitted between humans through breathing, Smart says.

In developing the model, Smart began with WHO’s Aug. 28 statement that the Ebola epidemic in West Africa could afflict more than 20,000 people before it is brought under control.

That has got to be the worst possible number, right?

Wrong.

The other day a prominent German virologist came forward and declared that “it is too late” to stop Ebola and that five million people will die in Sierra Leone and Liberia alone…

A top German virologist has caused shockwaves by asserting that it’s too late to halt the spread of Ebola in Sierra Leone and Liberia and that five million people will die, noting that efforts should now be focused on stopping the transmission of the virus to other countries.

Jonas Schmidt-Chanasit of the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine in Hamburg told Germany’s Deutsche Welle that hope is all but lost for the inhabitants of Sierra Leone and Liberia and that the virus will only “burn itself out” when it has infected the entire population and killed five million people.

“The right time to get this epidemic under control in these countries has been missed,” said Schmidt-Chanasit. “That time was May and June. “Now it is too late.”

So which of the numbers discussed above are accurate?

Only time will tell.

Meanwhile, the U.S. federal government is feverishly preparing for the worst.

This week we learned that Barack Obama is going to ask Congress for 88 million dollars for the purpose of conducting “a major Ebola offensive” in Africa.

Granted, Obama will ask Congress for money at the drop of a hat these days.  He wants 500 million dollars to arm the allies of ISIS and his reckless spending has been one of the primary factors why the U.S. national debt has risen by more than a trillion dollars over the past 12 months.

But it is still noteworthy.

Even more noteworthy is the fact that the U.S. State Department has just ordered 160,000 Hazmat suits

The U.S. State Department has ordered 160,000 Hazmat suits for Ebola, prompting concerns that the federal government is anticipating the rapid spread of a virus that has already claimed an unprecedented number of lives.

In a press release posted by Market Watch, Lakeland Industries, a manufacturer of industrial protective clothing for first responders, announced that it had signaled its intention “to join the fight against the spread of Ebola” by encouraging other suppliers to meet the huge demand created by the U.S. State Department’s order of 160,000 hazmat suits.

“With the U.S. State Department alone putting out a bid for 160,000 suits, we encourage all protective apparel companies to increase their manufacturing capacity for sealed seam garments so that our industry can do its part in addressing this threat to global health,” states the press release.

The huge bulk order of hazmat suits for Ebola has stoked concerns that the U.S. government expects the virus to continue to ravage countries in west Africa and may also be concerned about an outbreak inside the United States.

You don’t order that many Hazmat suits unless you are anticipating an outbreak of apocalyptic proportions.

And the CDC has just issued a six page Ebola checklist to hospitals to help them spot potential Ebola patients in America…

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, warning hospitals and doctors that “now is the time to prepare,” has issued a six-page Ebola “checklist” to help healthcare workers quickly determine if patients are infected.

While the CDC does not believe that there are new cases of Ebola in the United States, the assumption in the checklist is that it is only a matter of time before the virus hits home.

Let us hope and pray that these precautions do not become necessary.

Because if Ebola starts spreading like wildfire in this country, we are going to see pain and suffering beyond anything that most of us have ever imagined.

Just consider what a health worker on the front lines is seeing on a day to day basis…

I wake up each morning – if I have managed to sleep – wondering if this is really happening, or if it is a horror movie. In decades of humanitarian work I have never witnessed such relentless suffering of fellow human beings or felt so completely paralysed and utterly overwhelmed at our inability to provide anything but the most basic, and sometimes less than adequate, care.

I am supervising the suspect tent, which has room for 25 patients who are likely to have Ebola – 80-90% of those we test have the virus. We administer treatment for malaria, start patients on antibiotics, paracetamol, multivitamins, rehydration supplements, food, water and juice while they wait for their results. Sometimes people have arrived too late and die shortly after arriving.

In one afternoon last week I watched five seemingly fit, healthy, young men die. I gave the first a bottle of oral rehydration solution and came back with another for the second. In the half a minute or so in which I had been away the first man died, his bottle of water spilt across the floor. The four others followed in quick succession.

Ebola is truly a terrible, terrible disease.

The moment that cases start popping up in the United States, all of our lives will instantly change.

I hope that you are getting prepared for that.

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