Can the CDC Handle the Worst Possibilities of Ebola?
The continent of Africa is a vast area of abundant natural resources yet it remains the world’s poorest and most undeveloped, uneducated, and uncivilized continent of a billion people. I believe the reasons for Africa’s pathetic circumstances are a lack of Christian influence and a variety of other causes: corrupt governments, high levels of illiteracy, incredible instances of immorality, and recurrent tribal conflict ranging from guerrilla warfare to genocide.
While there are huge modern cities, there are thousands of villages (containing a few hundred to many thousands of people) where they still live in primitive conditions, mainly dirty drinking water and outside defecation. From this environment have come HIV, Ebola, and other exotic diseases that health officials have a commission to abolish or control. They are failing at abolishing and controlling.
Africa is the open toilet of the world, a disease-making factory. (If you want to know, Nov. 19 is World Toilet Day.) Someplace in the world, a child dies of poor sanitation every 20 seconds. And some African diseases are being brought to America.
May I suggest that very simple additions to the African lifestyle might solve or help alleviate the matter? How about building some old-fashioned outhouses in the villages? I have been to some of those villages and never saw an outhouse–not one! How could they have gone thousands of years without thinking of a better solution to one of the most important functions of human life?
One child dies every minute from preventable diarrhea. Cholera and typhoid are normal results of bad sanitation. Each family building their own outhouse would solve much of the sanitation problem.
Furthermore, another major third world problem is contaminated drinking water; however, eight drops of unscented bleach in one gallon of clear water (16 drops for cloudy water) will kill many of the disease-causing pathogens. Such actions do not require a multi-million dollar study or a vast infusion of federal funds. But I suppose my partial solution is too simple: Dig a hole for wastes and another hole, uphill if possible, for water and if a well is not possible, then use bleach or boiling for water purification.
Concerning Ebola, the Director of the CDC, Dr. Tom Frieden testified before Congress and admitted that there is not much confidence that the CDC can “deal with things like this.” He added, “Their experience in dealing with bacterial warfare is almost zero, but that’s almost what you have here….We know almost nothing, this is a world we’ve barely scratched the surface in.” He continued. “We are probably not prepared. We have nothing that stops a virus other than quarantine and hoping it dies out.” Hoping is not a scientific policy and has not been effective in controlling epidemics.
Frieden oozes gloom and has little hope. He seems to be setting us up for another massive failure on the part of the CDC. Frieden recently had experience as Commissioner of New York City Department of Health where former Mayor Bloomberg outlawed large sugary drinks and trans fats but it was struck down by a state court. The New York Post characterized the city’s attack on trans fats and sodas as, “a nanny state on steroids.” Now, Frieden has Ebola in his sights. I hope he is more successful because Ebola is a more dangerous than large sodas.
Contagion experts tell Ebola health workers to wear protective gear in dealing with the vigorous, vicious virus. Two infected Americans were returned to Atlanta wearing total protection; however, I want to know why that is so necessary if the disease is not airborne and one must come in contact with an infected person’s body fluids. And while there is no evidence to prove airborne infections, there is no evidence to prove otherwise. Sane, sensible scientists take the worst-case scenario not the best-case. You hope (and pray!) for the best but plan for the worst.
Planning for the worst would demand that infected people not be brought back to America for treatment, even highly dedicated and compassionate people like the infected missionaries. At first blush it may seem calloused to leave infected Americans in Africa but good, safe medical procedures would dictate safety over sentimentalism. Of course, the infected medical personnel should get the best care available and the CDC and others could see that it becomes a reality.
A major German virologist Jonas Schmidt-Chanasit caused concern, consternation, and contempt when he suggested that the battle against Ebola in Sierra Leone and Liberia was lost and that the virus would eventually kill 5 million people.
It is a fact that an unusually large proportion of health care workers have been infected. Were they so careless as to make contact with body fluids of Ebola patients or were they infected by breathing the virus?
Why not assume airborne possibilities until proved otherwise? It is a fact that bubonic plague (98% of world’s modern cases have been in Africa) is caused by bites from infected fleas carried by rats. During the Middle Ages when infection reached the lungs, it became even more deadly pneumonic plague since it was then airborne. Plague could then be contracted by coughing and sneezing.
Dr. Elizabeth Lee Vliet is a past director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons and is very concerned about the infectious possibilities. She revealed a 2012 Canadian study in which healthy monkeys and infected monkeys were kept side by side in cages but had no physical contact. The healthy monkeys became infected with Ebola without any physical contact. So, can we and should we trust the CDC for the answers?
Michael T. Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, notes in a New York Times op-ed article that, “there has been more human-to-human transmission in the past four months than most likely occurred in the last 500 to 1,000 years.” He suggested the horrifying possibility that Ebola could mutate to become transmissible through the air. He added that “virologists are loath to discuss openly but are definitely considering [airborne transmission] in private.”
Obama has sent 3,000 military personnel to Africa. Will they enforce the quarantine in Sierra Leone where one million households are required to stay indoors? Will the U.S. troops be authorized to protect themselves if people refuse to obey and panic? Will infected soldiers be returned to America or treated in Africa? What about the soldiers who will have sex with local prostitutes and come home within the 21-day incubation period?
On Sept. 16 the news reported that the U.S. State Department has purchased 160,000 hazmat suits for Ebola protection. We sure don’t need that many for health works so why are so many needed?
Again, hope and pray for the best and make plans for the worst. I’m afraid the worst may be staring us in the face. Can we trust the CDC to deal with the worst?
What other vicious, virulent viruses are percolating in Africa as I write?
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