I Do Not Believe In Ebola

Awesom lady reaches for Ebola help

Ebola is in Australia! Turn out the lights and call the cops!

And yet in June of 2014 in Liberia, Africa, “I don’t believe in Ebola” was not only a common view, even among many medical professionals; it was the number one hit songi.

Little did the news team know, what Vice investigator Larsen was reporting on, in those mere months prior to the formal “mega outbreak”, was a far cry from what was to follow.

Vice investigator, Gold, would find, for his dispatches, a picture that was exceedingly more grim when he returned to Liberia in October of 2014ii.

The bodies were piled high and the emergency services overwhelmed. The situation so chaotic, that one medical team took a body for cremation; only to discover on arrival that the patient was still aliveiii.

But how did it come to this? Thousands of US boots on the groundiv; quarantine zonesv; confirmed US cases, one now dead, being sent home when returning from disease stricken Africa vi; according to the World Health Organization (WHO) an “unavoidable” continued spread in Europe being underway vii; and even four suspected cases in Australia: Perth, Melbourne, Gold Coast and, most recently, Cairns viii. Is this new disease the beginning of the end for us all?

Well, probably not.

First of all, the haemorrhagic viruses of the Ebola family are quite well understood ix. This is something that has been persistently reinforced, since the outbreak became internationally unwieldy, by lectures at UC Berkeley x; Stoneybrook in New Yorkxi; and grand rounds at Texas Statexii, where the US Ebola fatality occurred, to name but a few. Even the medical arms of the military, including the notorious Fort Detrick xiii, and Africa Command (AfriCom) xiv, along with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)xv, have gone out of their way to make this information available.

Ebola is a delicate virus that only requires standard available hospital contact precautionsxvi xvii. This is not to say the deaths are not real; however, the outbreak can be controlled – no different to any other infectious disease faced in any hospital around the world every day. According to a letter in Lancet this month: This remains the case, despite the over the top precautions all too often shown in news reports xviii. Indeed, the greatest risk of infection appears to be in the incorrect removal of personal protective equipment (PPE) by medical staffxix.

The real problem is the lack of facilities in African nations becoming over burdened, and poor contact precaution procedure enforcement in developed world hospital settingsxx xxi. Which is something we always live with xxii xxiii xxiv xxv.

The African cases have been genetically and spatially mapped, according to Science xxvi xxvii, and through this, as well as CDC contact tracing xxviii, a geo-spacial time line of the 2014 outbreak has already been formed all the way to a likely “patient zero” in a 2 year old boy xxix. Additionally, the virus has been around, in one form or another, since at least 1976 xxx. Arguably, even in backwater Australia, we know quite a lot, is the point xxxi xxxii.

So why all the hype? Why is special training required to take a medical history xxxiii 29? Why are actors dressing up as Ebola patients in New York xxxiv? Why are medical staff refusing to be quarantined, if it is so dangerousxxxv? Why is the military doing something altogether differentxxxvi? In short: Why is Ebola death on every channel?

One reason is the actual death.

WHO figures have the current African death toll approaching a “likely highly under reported” ~5’000 dead xxxvii. That alarming figure, however, does not adequately communicate the risk – or lack thereof. That being said, it seems all but certain the novel tobacco derived antiviral “ZMapp” will still make a killing; whether or not it is needed or even works xxxviii. And don’t worry, along with companies in Russia promising several vaccines xxxix, the “reputable” giant Glaxo Smith Kline (GSK) is on the case – this being perhaps more concerning news than anything Ebola could hope to threaten alone xl xli xlii xliii xliv xlv.

Another glaring question is: How did Africa go from, not even believing in Ebola in June, to ~5’000+ dead in September 1 11 xlvi?!

Ebola in its current form is thought to come from eating African wild game meat4. However, the reason so many in Liberia were in disbelief for so long, was due to the fact that, if cooked at ~60 degrees Celsius; Ebola is destroyed xlvii. As such, with cooking, no one was sicker than usual – and everyone was eating the meat 1.

Add to that the (arguably deserved 1 2) distrusted reputation of the US and Liberian governments, and the large number of other fatal diseases still in Africa: Why would they worry about another disease? One being told to them no less; that required they give up one of their, very limited, food sources; and that they saw no evidence for? Under the circumstances, it could be argued, a belief in Ebola, especially in those early days, would not have been the most prudent position to maintain for the average African.

And cooking is not one’s only Ebola defense. It is worthy of note; Ebola virus is also destroyed by bleach, time, sunlight, boiling water for 5 minutes – indeed, by pretty much anything 44. And all of the key items are found in the hospitals of developed countries. And most households. And, quite honestly, in most public restrooms.

The issue is infection control protocols and adherence. As it was before Ebola ever made the stage xlviii xlix 3.

It is further worthy of note that all Ebola case scares in Australia, thus far, have not in fact resulted in a sweeping outbreak of the disease in this country. In fact; they have amounted to nothing at all – and even that is arguably too much. This is the trouble with “news” media hype.

Although it is true the vectors are technically unknown, and the disease is technically untreatable, but for supportive care 17 4 : to worry about Ebola is no different to worrying about every other horrible, and more contagious, disease that you have, as yet, never even heard of.

And believe me, there are a lot of them l li lii.

The best thing you can do to protect yourself, and your family, right now – is turn off your TV.


[+++] Research Blog Marker

*JJR is the psychiatry & research science investigator for the Chronicle LS.


J(J)R (2014). I Don’t Believe In Ebola. JChronLettSci. (10), OCT, Ed16.

iMonkey Meat and the Ebola Outbreak in Liberia – Vice Dispatch.” Accessed October 30, 2014. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XasTcDsDfMg.

iiThe Fight Against Ebola (Part 1/3) – Vice News.” Accessed October 30, 2014. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4AZidJ36nA0&list=PLw613M86o5o7q1cjb26MfCgdxJtshvRZ-&index=4.

iiiEbola Burial Team Take Body Away for Cremation, Realise Man Is Actually Still Alive – Africa – World – The Independent.” Accessed October 30, 2014. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/ebola-burial-team-take-body-away-for-cremation-realise-man-is-actually-still-alive—9773565.html.

ivDefense Department Briefing | Pentagon| C-SPAN.org.” Accessed October 30, 2014. http://www.c-span.org/video/?321789-1/defense-department-briefing.

vCDC Briefing First Ebola Case US | C-SPAN.org.” Accessed October 30, 2014. http://www.c-span.org/video/?321812-1/cdc-briefing-first-ebola-case-us.

viEbola Patient Dies in Texas; Five U.S. Airports to Screen for Fever | Reuters.” Accessed October 30, 2014. http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/10/08/us-health-ebola-usa-idUSKCN0HX1OK20141008.

viiEbola Outbreak: Spread of Deadly Disease across Europe Is ‘Unavoidable’, Warns WHO Chief – Europe – World – The Independent.” Accessed October 30, 2014. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/ebola-outbreak-husband-of-spanish-nurse-placed-in-quarantine-as-22-contacts-identified-9779682.html.

ixThe Structural Basis of Ebola Viral Pathogenesis – NIH.” Accessed October 30, 2014. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H8IFC8GQvNE&index=4&list=WL. “AHPPC-Statement.pdf.” Accessed October 30, 2014.

xThe 2014 Ebola Outbreak: Update on an Unprecedented Public Health Event – Berkeley.” Accessed October 30, 2014. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WCM3HWsIbDE&list=WL&index=1.

xiPresidential Lecture: ‘Ebola – Risks of Emerging Infections’ – Stoney-Brook.” Accessed October 30, 2014. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LBQdzp0YGZ0.

xiiEbola Virus Disease Preparedness for Health Care Workers – TexusU.” Accessed October 30, 2014. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WvTJY0_tsLQ.

xiiiBiological Warfare – Experiments on the American People – Institute for Molecular Medicine.” Accessed October 30, 2014. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1QJo3XuYp-M.

xivFirst Shipment of the Ramped Up U.S. Military Response to Ebola Arrives in Liberia | United States Africa Command.” Accessed October 31, 2014. http://www.africom.mil/newsroom/article/23586/first-shipment-of-the-ramped-up-u-s-military-response-to-ebola-arrives-in-liberia.

xvEbola and Contact Tracing – CDC.” Accessed October 30, 2014. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rwdkVenedZQ&feature=youtu.be.

xviDefense Department Briefing | Pentagon| C-SPAN.org.” Accessed October 30, 2014. http://www.c-span.org/video/?321789-1/defense-department-briefing.

xvii “Ebolavirus – Pathogen Safety Data Sheets.” Accessed October 31, 2014. http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/lab-bio/res/psds-ftss/ebola-eng.php.

xviiiRyschon, Timothy W. “Ebola Control Measures and Inadequate Responses.” The Lancet 384, no. 9949 (September 2014): 1181–82. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(14)61346-5.

xixEdmond, Michael B., Daniel J. Diekema, and Eli N. Perencevich. “Ebola Virus Disease and the Need for New Personal Protective Equipment.” JAMA, October 28, 2014. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.15497.

xxMonkey Meat and the Ebola Outbreak in Liberia – Vice Dispatch.” Accessed October 30, 2014. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XasTcDsDfMg.

xxiTowner, J. S., P. E. Rollin, D. G. Bausch, A. Sanchez, S. M. Crary, M. Vincent, W. F. Lee, et al. “Rapid Diagnosis of Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever by Reverse Transcription-PCR in an Outbreak Setting and Assessment of Patient Viral Load as a Predictor of Outcome.” Journal of Virology 78, no. 8 (April 15, 2004): 4330–41. doi:10.1128/JVI.78.8.4330-4341.2004.

xxiiWiener-Well, Yonit, Margalit Galuty, Bernard Rudensky, Yechiel Schlesinger, Denise Attias, and Amos M. Yinnon. “Nursing and Physician Attire as Possible Source of Nosocomial Infections.” American Journal of Infection Control 39, no. 7 (September 2011): 555–59. doi:10.1016/j.ajic.2010.12.016.

xxiii Sadsad, Rosemarie, Vitali Sintchenko, Geoff D. McDonnell, and Gwendolyn L. Gilbert. “Effectiveness of Hospital-Wide Methicillin-ResistantStaphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) Infection Control Policies Differs by Ward Specialty.” Edited by Jan Kluytmans. PLoS ONE 8, no. 12 (December 10, 2013): e83099. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0083099.

xxiv“Infection Control, Ethics and Accountability | Medical Journal of Australia.” Accessed October 30, 2014. https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2009/190/12/infection-control-ethics-and-accountability.

xxvCohen, J. “Ebola Vaccine: Little and Late.” Science 345, no. 6203 (September 19, 2014): 1441–42. doi:10.1126/science.345.6203.1441.

xxviGire, S. K., A. Goba, K. G. Andersen, R. S. G. Sealfon, D. J. Park, L. Kanneh, S. Jalloh, et al. “Genomic Surveillance Elucidates Ebola Virus Origin and Transmission during the 2014 Outbreak.” Science 345, no. 6202 (September 12, 2014): 1369–72. doi:10.1126/science.1259657.

xxviiRasmussen, A. L., A. Okumura, M. T. Ferris, R. Green, F. Feldmann, S. M. Kelly, D. P. Scott, et al. “Host Genetic Diversity Enables Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever Pathogenesis and Resistance.” Science, October 30, 2014. doi:10.1126/science.1259595.

xxviiiContact-Tracing. 2014. Ebook. 1st ed. CDC: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/pdf/contact-tracing.pdf.

xxixEbola Outbreak: A Timeline of the Worst Epidemic of the Virulent Disease in History – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation).” Accessed October 31, 2014. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-10-22/ebola-timeline-worst-outbreak-in-history/5831876.

xxxOutbreaks Chronology: Ebola Virus Disease | Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever | CDC.” Accessed October 31, 2014. http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/outbreaks/history/chronology.html.

xxxiEbola Virus Disease (EVD) Outbreaks in West Africa – Ebola-Clinicians.pdf.” Accessed October 30, 2014. http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/ohp-ebola.htm//$File/ebola-clinicians.pdf.

xxxii“Ebolavirus – Pathogen Safety Data Sheets.” Accessed October 31, 2014. http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/lab-bio/res/psds-ftss/ebola-eng.php.

xxxiii“Review of Human-to-Human Transmission of Ebola Virus | Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever | CDC.” Accessed October 31, 2014. http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/transmission/human-transmission.html.

xxxivHospitals Secretly Send in Actors to Fake Symptoms, Test Staff.” Accessed October 31, 2014. http://www.firstcoastnews.com/story/news/health/ebola/2014/10/09/hospitals-secretly-send-actors-fake-symptoms/16959621/.

xxxv“Kaci Hickox, Nurse Under Ebola Quarantine, Returns to Her Maine Home – WSJ – WSJ.” Accessed October 31, 2014. http://online.wsj.com/articles/nurse-being-held-under-ebola-quarantine-at-newark-hospital-will-be-discharged-1414418399.

xxxvi“Remarks by the President on Ebola | The White House.” Accessed October 31, 2014. http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/10/28/remarks-president-ebola.

xxxvii“2014 Ebola Outbreak in West Africa | Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever | CDC.” Accessed October 31, 2014. http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/outbreaks/2014-west-africa/index.html.

xxxviiiCohen, J. “Ebola Vaccine: Little and Late.” Science 345, no. 6203 (September 19, 2014): 1441–42. doi:10.1126/science.345.6203.1441.

xxxixRussian Scientists Develop New Vaccine to Fight Ebola Virus | News | The Moscow Times.” Accessed October 31, 2014. http://www.themoscowtimes.com/news/article/russian-scientists-develop-new-vaccine-to-fight-ebola-virus/505967.html.

xlVaccine-Makers and Ebola: Giving It a Shot | The Economist.” Accessed October 31, 2014. http://www.economist.com/news/business/21629399-drugmakers-bet-vaccines-will-help-fight-against-ebola-giving-it-shot.

xliEbola Vaccine Trials Fast-Tracked by International Consortium | GSK.” Accessed October 31, 2014. http://www.gsk.com/en-gb/media/press-releases/2014/ebola-vaccine-trials-fast-tracked-by-international-consortium/.

xlii“Avandia Lawsuit – Current Lawsuits, Settlements & Help With Your Claim.” Accessed October 31, 2014. http://www.drugwatch.com/avandia/lawsuit.php.

xliii“Paxil Lawsuit – Lawyers, Legal Claims Against GlaxoSmithKline.” Accessed October 31, 2014. http://www.drugwatch.com/paxil/lawsuit.php.

xliv“GlaxoSmithKline Agrees to Pay $3 Billion in Fraud Settlement – NYTimes.com.” Accessed October 31, 2014. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/03/business/glaxosmithkline-agrees-to-pay-3-billion-in-fraud-settlement.html?pagewanted=all.

xlv“GSK To Pay $229 Million To Settle Avandia, Drug Lawsuits By 8 State Attorneys General.” Accessed October 31, 2014. http://www.lexisnexis.com/legalnewsroom/litigation/b/litigation-blog/archive/2013/07/25/gsk-to-pay-229-million-to-settle-avandia-drug-lawsuits-by-8-state-attorneys-general.aspx.

xlviGreen, Andrew. “West Africa Struggles to Contain Ebola Outbreak.” The Lancet 383, no. 9924 (April 2014): 1196. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(14)60579-1.

xlviiEbolavirus – Pathogen Safety Data Sheets.” Accessed October 31, 2014. http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/lab-bio/res/psds-ftss/ebola-eng.php.

xlviiiSydnor, E. R. M., and T. M. Perl. “Hospital Epidemiology and Infection Control in Acute-Care Settings.” Clinical Microbiology Reviews 24, no. 1 (January 1, 2011): 141–73. doi:10.1128/CMR.00027-10.

xlixData and Statistics | HAI | CDC.” Accessed October 31, 2014. http://www.cdc.gov/hai/surveillance/.

lMahy, B. W. J, and M. H. V Van Regenmortel. Desk Encyclopedia of Human and Medical Virology. Oxford: Academic, 2010.

liInstitute of Medicine (U.S.). The Infectious Etiology of Chronic Diseases: Defining the Relationship, Enhancing the Research, and Mitigating the Effects: Workshop Summary. Edited by Stacey Knobler. Washington, D.C: National Academies Press, 2004.

liiCook, G. C, Alimuddin Zumla, and Patrick Manson. Manson’s Tropical Diseases. [Edinburgh]: Saunders, 2009.




About J.Chron.Ltt.&Sci. [JRR]

~CogSc (Humour); NeuroPsych; Philosophy (Death/Identity); Methods (Research); Intelligence/Investigation (Forensic); Medical Error~
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8 Responses to I Do Not Believe In Ebola

  1. sheketechad says:

    I was a little surprised that the virus is transmissable from the dead. Spent a few hours reading the scientific lit on it that is available. While I agree that we don’t live in the conditions that are making it run so roughshod across Africa, there is also the arrogance factor that we have that makes it a small potential problem (not so small if you happen to be the one having it though). If it gets loose in medical settings, many of those are already weak or immuno-compromised which could be problematic.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, a dx protocol is hospital infections in other places: they board the place up and walk away or people learn not to go to the hospital, because you’ll get sick. That stops the spread. Staff die.

      Look, I could have easily written this the other way – I nearly did. But the nights I was working on it their was one of our Ebola scares, and the medical community is small. But not just because I may have contact with the patient (the last case was an RN in my state), but because infection control has always been a pet topic of mine.

      & as I point out – our hospitals aren’t safe now. I didn’t show just how bad (something in the order of the leading causes of death are hospital caused: and we have one of the best rated systems in the world). You don’t need to be immunocomprimised, but you’d think they would at least step it up in those cases. Far more than they do

      Too smart to wash their hands. I’m a bit tired now, but the first world stats were something like 40% of surgeons in anonymous surveys admitted they didn’t follow infection protocols. When observed it jumps to ~70%. And then there are “mystery infections” and who knows how the super bugs are spreading when patients are in isolation in only sterile zones with no contact with people at all (except staff, obvi). Yer, mystery.

      & we all end up in those places needing care eventually – including the doctors. So much compartmentalization. I decided to not help hysteria though, which is a problem everywhere too for sure and has negative effects on policy. Even in Africa the hype was so bad they didn’t believe it was real! The number one song was about it! That is all true. Doctors were saying it. And even since Ebola, the other diseases have still being there killing people, and the wars, of which there will be more now, again, and the famine: none of that ever left. I wonder how many of the Ebola death figures are really the other disease going untreated in favour of Ebola. Do you think you’ll get that number? Think about how you would? Hmm. .

      Ebola – which noone cared about in the June outbreak, the same outbreak, this outbreak; that was already the deadliest outbreak in history.

      But put a first worlder in hospital with a fever of 37.6 – now it a big deal. Send in the troops (literal soldiers, thousands: but that would take us too far afield).

      But so good points.

      Thank you for engaging ^^.


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