I'm reading a lot of worry and handwringing about the two American health-care workers, infected with Ebola hemorrhagic fever Ebola HF, being transported from Liberia to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia.
The protocols to prevent in-hospital Ebola transmission are well-established.
Bringing the ill patients back give them the best chance at surviving the disease. Please read something factual by people who know what they are talking about. In this excellent piece by David Kroll, the experts say:
“We are not talking about some mystical pathogen but something that is spread in a way that we are used to. We use those precautions on a daily basis,” said Ribner.
...CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H., said, “Ebola is a virus that can be stopped and not spread in hospitals. The stakes are higher but it’s easily inactivated with typical hospital disinfectants and proceedures.
Also please read Tara C. Smith's 2007 interview with Zoe Young, a water and sanitation expert with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF*, known in the US as Doctors without Borders), who was working in the Democratic Republic of Congo during the DRC Ebola outbreak in 2007, and physician Armand Sprecher on about their work with MSF and the Ebola outbreak in particular.
In a series of Facebook posts, Vernon College's Will Robertson wrote (edited for clarity):,
It's the whole "perceived risk vs actual risk," in this case driven by ratings-hungry "news" networks.
The heatwave in Europe in 2003 killed an estimated 70,000 people in two weeks. In the US, 7000 people die every day from something.
Imagine this scenario.
First, a really bad flu season rolls around, but too many people decide not to vaccinate either because they buy into the nonsense about the vaccine being dangerous or ineffective, or they don't think it's that big of a deal. 60,000 people die over the course of four months. But it's not Ebola, it's just the flu, so no one freaks out.
In the same time frame, a man arrives from Africa by airplane. Shortly after deplaning, the man develops symptomatic Ebola. He exposed dozens of people, only five of whom test positive, and that's only because he vomited blood in their face and it got in their mouths. All six are given massive IV hydration, experimental antivirals, and aspirin for fever. Two die. One lives with serious nerve and organ damage, and the last two pull through. One survivor sues the company that made the experimental treatment for $500 million, but settles out of court later that year for $1.2 million, driving the company into bankruptcy and putting 163 people out of work.
The media blows the Ebola exposure out of proportion. People riot in the streets looting pharmacies and clinics, resulting in tens of millions of dollars in damage and lost product. Dow drops 5,000 points as everyone freaks out. Anti-science cultists push nonsense "cures" and "treatments" and rake in a few million bucks. Congress launches an investigation into "failures" of the CDC, Homeland Security, Customs, and the airline. Many people are fired, Four resign. With severance packages. Various politicians parade their victory and ride their glory to reelection now that the public has forgotten their various scandals and previous incompetence. 1600+ deaths and 43,000 injuries and arrests are attributable to the rioting, but no one cares because by the time the numbers are tallied, the new season of "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" premiers alongside Justin Bieber's first episode as a judge on "I Want To Be A Star."
Airport screening now includes a six-hour wait for an antibody titer test to make sure no one enters the country with Ebola. The companies that make the kits make millions. Airline ticket costs and surcharges increase ticket prices 34% on average. The four dozen people who test positive for exposure and who wait three weeks in quarantine without access to legal council? They were exposed, but survived, because the test detects antibodies, not the virus. A kit that detects the virus is, due a vagary in various Federal laws, is illegal in airports because no one making the decisions understands the difference between a pathogen and the antibody to that pathogen.
And no one notices, over the same four month period, that 4,000 people died due to drunk driving, with 16,000 hospitalized and requiring long-term care and rehabilitation.
In the same four month period, about 180,000 people from everything from heart disease and cancer to accidents with chainsaws and driving through flash floods, all the way down to the one guy who trips over his dog, falls down his stairs, doesn't break his neck but impales himself on his favorite graphite putter.
The 500,000 or so who are hospitalized for serious illnesses and accidents during the same four months, but who survive? No one cares. It's not Ebola, so it's not either scary, cool, or scary-cool.
Total cost to the country: $857 billion.
Judging by past performance, it's a safe bet to say conspiracy websites will claim that millions of people actually died from Ebola, but that the Executive Branch is covering it up at the behest of the Illuminati and their Reptilian Masters from Sigma Draconis II and the Annanuki from Nebiru. Other conspiracy sites will claim no one died and it was a false flag attack to draw attention away from the indictment of the former Speaker of the House on embezzlement and racketeering charges.
My point is, even if the US experienced a big outbreak of Ebola (and that's unlikely) my estimate is that there would be something on the order of 20 deaths (at the outside). As of today, August 2, 2014, the death toll from Ebola in West Africa is on the order of 730 deaths. That's a tragedy, and I do not dismiss those deaths or the suffering of the patients and their families.
But to put it in perspective, around 7,000 people die each day in the US alone from everything from age to accident. No one panics over that. No one panics over the tens of thousands killed in the Syrian civil war (to say nothing of the polio outbreak that is occurring there now because of breakdowns in their medical infrastructure). No one cares how many thousands are gunned down or blown up across Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. No one cares how many thousands starve to death while the rest of us overeat.
But Ebola? People come unglued over that because it's "scary-cool."
Even if we do get a confirmed case in the US, it will be meaningless. We've had people with hemorrhagic fevers in the US before. We have endemic bubonic plague and hantovirus. We have Valley Fever. We have Marberg virus samples.
Ebola is not nearly as scary as cancer or heart disease or a sudden embolism.
Or measles. Look, since its discovery, Ebola has killed fewer than 3,000 people worldwide, including the current outbreak. . Measles (which some folks refuse to vaccinate kids for) killed 122,000 in 2012 alone.
Perspective, people, and relative risk.
Updated to add: Here is a simple flow chart to ease your worries: