October 2nd, 2014

#4404: The "Ebola in America" post

So: a guy from Liberia--just days after he carried a friend, stricken with ebola, into a hospital--lies on his pre-travel questionnaire and flies to the US. A few days after arriving, he gets sick and goes to a hospital, is sent home (with antibiotics *rolleyes*), and then a couple days after that he becomes symptomatic.

Look at the awesome precautions being taken by these people to avoid the spread of the infection.

"Patient Zero" had contact with at least 100 people. Okay--the people on the plane from Liberia to California, the people he came in contact with at the airport there, then the people on the place from California to Texas...just 100 people? Onlyt?

As I just said, Patient Zero knew that he had close contact with an infected person, because he carried her into the hospital.

Then, to make things even more entertaining, his family didn't stay home. Even though they knew they had been exposed to ebola, and had been asked to remain home by public health officials, they left the place. This strain is virulent enough that it's pretty safe to say that if you've been in the same room as someone who is actively vomiting, you're infected.

Vox Day says this may be why it's been so hard to get the disease under control in Africa. And further, Ann Barnhardt pulls no punches explaining this in her inimitably, fearlessly blunt fashion.

Meanwhile, the Super Genius In Chief is saying that travel restrictions aren't necessary even though Air France and British Airways have stopped running flights to West Africa.

Borepatch reminds us that besides infecting humans, ebola infects other animals--and is carried by others, like mice. Therefore, cloth that's been contaminated should be burned.

But hey, we're the smartest and the bestest and we even have the machine that goes bing! so everything will be fine!

In fact, the idiocy we're seeing from D.C. will continue exactly as long as it takes for someone important to come down with ebola. Then the flights will be curtailed and quarantines be emplaced and-and-and...but not until then. As long as it's just brown people (or poor whites) who are infected and dying, the flights from Africa will continue to be allowed to land here.

Then we get to a bunch of fuggheadedness from someone who is normally a clear thinker. After a bunch of stuff about the intent of an infected person, he concludes that the power to quarantine is not a power he's comfortable giving to the government.

Dude...the government has always had that power. Before the invention of the polio vaccine, for example, as I noted in a prior post, homes would be put under quarantine. And that was for polio, which was bad enough; ebola is fatal more often than polio, and much more virulent.

We know more about disease now than we did before the invention of the polio vaccine, true. We're better at keeping people alive than we were sixty, seventy years ago. The invention of vaccines and antibiotics are a large part of why "quarantine" has stopped being something people routinely encounter; and because most of us have never encountered a real quarantine, we tend to think of it as an extreme measure.

But if it's the only certain way to prevent the spread of a disease it is necessary. And so far we've found that even if people wear bunny suits while treating ebola patients, they can be infected. We don't really understand how the disease is transmitted, but it's obvious that standard precautions aren't enough and even extraordinary measures seem to have a failure rate which is significantly less than zero.

Ebola is a serious enough disease that we have to start taking measures to stop its spread, before it becomes an epidemic here. Taking those measures after a million people are infected is going to do nothing.