Sunday, August 3, 2014
Ebola threat reassessment
I don't like to be an alarmist. There's enough real threats out there without me crying wolf at the first tiny perceived hint of danger. Most things that people have to prepare for are pretty mundane. They are much more likely to suffer financial disruption than EMPs from space. It's not that EMPs aren't real. It's just a lot further down the probability list than losing a job. Prepare for the most likely stuff first. Know your area and what threats could cause major problems. (hurricanes, tornadoes, ice storms, earthquakes -regional threats, mostly) When you know what your most likely dangers are, then you know what to prepare for.
Ebola is a different sort of threat. Right now odds look pretty good for people in first world countries. So why am I concerned? While the threat may be thought of as pretty low, should it gain a foothold the results would be horrific. In Africa Ebola has something like a 90 percent fatality rate.
I've done some research and came to some disturbing conclusions. In the past, Ebola could be prevented with pretty standard infection control procedures. Those aren't working as well as they did in the past. Something may have changed. There's some thought that this version of the disease may be transmitted by blood droplets suspended in the air.
Allowing an obviously sick person to fly on an International flight seemed like a silly idea. Nobody would let that happen, right? Wrong. It has already happened.
There's another potential infection path that hasn't gotten a lot of mention in the press. Doctors who've gotten sick in Africa have been flown to their home countries for treatment. My heart goes out to those health care workers who've put their lives on the line. The compassionate thing to do is to get them the best treatment a first world hospital can provide. However . . . didn't I say something about normal infection control measures not working so well this time around?
Should an infection break out in a major metropolitan area, expect governments to panic. The only truly effective way to combat this infection is by quarantine. People's movements would get restricted very quickly. If your plan is to get out into the countryside during a pandemic, you'd better have your plans ready to go at a moment's notice. At the very least, everyone should be prepared to hunker down in the house for a number of weeks or even months.
Here's the real horror. The things that I fear might happen here are happening right now in Africa. Our brothers and sisters are in dire need and the rest of the world hardly cares. Major pharmaceutical companies don't think there's any money to be made looking for a cure. Many of Africa's heath care systems struggle during normal times. These are not normal times.