Ebola: distraction or weapon?

Ebola
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Ebola has arrived in the United States. This arrival challenges the philosophical foundations of Progressivism and libertarianism. It also challenges the public policies of the last century. More to the point, Obama has blundered badly in the Ebola crisis. Or has he? More to the point: how can you handle it?

Ebola and how to handle it

The Western world first discovered Ebola as a cause of viral hemorrhagic fever in 1976. Ebola refers to five viruses. They all take their name from the Ebola River in Zaire.

One contracts Ebola from another through contact with that other person’s bodily fluids, including the blood. Ebola has never spread through the air in the wild. The virus incubates for one to three weeks in a person’s body. After that, the person is now infectious as well as infected. The patient at first looks like one suffering from influenza, before beginning to cough or vomit blood.

Ebola

An Ebola virion. Colorized transmission electron micrograph by Cynthia Goldsmith, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Beginning August 8, Ebola broke out into the populations of several countries in West Africa, including Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Senegal, and Nigeria. The one American case involves one who traveled to Liberia, finagled a seat on a flight to Belgium, then flew to Washington Dulles Airport and finally to Dallas-Fort Worth Regional Airport. Where one traveler caught it, others might also. Seventy percent of those who have caught it in West Africa have now died.

Aside from Thomas Duncan (“Patient Zero USA”), two American aid workers flew into West Africa to help, caught it, then flew back on two very special charter flights to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. Both have recovered.

Fiction writers and Hollywood screenwriters, directors and producers have had a field day with Ebola since U.N. doctors first discovered it. Who can forget the movie Outbreak (1995) or Tom Clancy’s novel Executive Action? Both assumed mortalities of up to 90 percent even in the USA. Outbreak climaxed with a threat to wipe out a small town with a Fuel Air Device as a desperate containment measure. Executive Action assumed an Iranian plot to bring two Ebola patients into Iran, culture the virus from their blood, aerosolize it, and set off Ebola vapor bombs in conventions in several U.S. cities.

How not to handle Ebola

But how Ebola really came to America, plays out like a gallows comedy of errors. Thomas Duncan (see above) finagles air passage home. He then goes to the hospital and gives every clue he can think of, to say he is deathly ill. But that hospital’s electronic chart system fails. Nurses’ notes do not get to the doctors. So doctors give him a seven-day course of antibiotics and send him home. Before the hospital discovers their mistake, he manages to contact over a hundred people, directly or indirectly. These include five school-age child relatives.

A court orders them to stay in quarantine. (This should give some comfort to libertarians: a judge, not an executive-branch employee, ordered the quarantine.) The problem: the family broke quarantine. Worse yet, health workers who delivered “meals on wheels” to the family, did not wear Hazardous Materials protective gear. One newshound took video of someone hosing down a driveway or sidewalk where the patient had vomited, thus washing his vomitus into the storm drain. Five days after that broken quarantine, officials took the family somewhere else, and sent a Haz-Mat team to clean up their now vacant apartment.

While this was going on, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention insisted they were screening incoming passengers at airports. But a doctor, wearing full Haz-Mat gear, loudly disputed that claim.

Last night, Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) accused the Obama administration of downplaying the Ebola threat. He says it could become a worldwide pandemic and perhaps infect every country in the world. He recommends cutting off West Africa from airline flights, or at least screening all passengers. Senator Paul has a point: the CDC promised Ebola would never get out into the American general population. And get out it has.

Naturally, liberal politicians and commentators disagree. “Discrimination!” cried Jehmu Greene on Fox News Channels’ program Cashing In this morning. A Dr. David Quammen said to CNN’s Anderson Cooper,

You can’t isolate neighborhoods, you can’t isolate nations. It doesn’t work. And people talk about, “Well, we shouldn’t allow any flights from Liberia.” I mean, we in America, how dare we turn our backs on Liberia given the fact that this is a country that was founded in the 1820s, 1830s because of American slavery. We have a responsibility to stay connected to them and help them see this through.

Daniel Greenfield at FrontPage Mag.com suggested Dr. Quammen should learn the real history of Liberia before making statements like that. In fact, returning freedmen founded Liberia after the War Between the States and ran it as their former masters had run the Old South. Nothing remains of those people today.

On a (perhaps) more sober note, Fox News’ John Stossel protests that Ebola is not nearly hard enough to catch to justify trying to quarantine all of Africa from commercial aviation. Bill O’Reilly disagrees, and points out that aid workers do not fly commercially, but almost exclusively by charter.

Bob Livingston suggested this was the “October Surprise” Obama planned to save his party in the midterm elections: project an image of competent and heroic government handling a dire emergency. Mr. Livingston did not say whether Obama could still “put it over” after he and the CDC have blundered so badly thus far.

How you can handle Ebola

Three things should be clear by now:

  1. The United States government, for all its vaunts, cannot stop this epidemic. Everything they promised to avoid, has happened anyway.
  2. In fact, Americans cannot trust their government even to act in good faith. The spectacle of someone washing patient vomitus down a storm drain represents carelessness of a phenomenal order, or someone staging a scene. The staging could have one of two purposes: making Ebola out to be a bigger threat than it is, or deliberately spreading a disease on the theory it would make people cry out in panic, “Save us! Save us!”
  3. But Ebola might not be as dangerous as the sickness-and-death figures from Africa would suggest. John Stossel points out that health care in America is far better than in West Africa. And so far it is harder to get than a common cold, though easier to get than HIV-AIDS.

But even these experts ignore something else: you can fight Ebola on your own. And people are doing it.

Liberian-Americans are not so quick to invite their relatives into their homes. They are putting them up in area hotels for the three weeks the disease takes to incubate. That’s their way of keeping the disease out of their community. Nor did any community leader prompt them to do this.

Mr. Livingston reminded his readers that vitamin D3, taken in large doses (10,000 IU/day,k or as much as 150,000 IU/day for an active infection), should boost anyone’s immunity.

Michael Donaldson, M.D., research director for Hallelujah Acres, agrees. The best defense against any virus is a strong immune system. He recommends four other supplements for an immune system that will fight off any virus: selenium, nascent or “free-radical” iodine, vitamin C packaged in liposomal form, and colloidal silver. Hallelujah Acres makes all four available in a kit. Price: about $100 plus shipping and handling.

So fighting Ebola need not be as dramatic as actor Dustin Hoffman or novelist Tom Clancy made it seem. Nor do the American people need to wait on the government. Which, considering the comedy of errors this has been, is just as well.

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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.

4 Responses to Ebola: distraction or weapon?

  1. […] Ebola: distraction or weapon? […]

  2. […] Last weekend, a scene played out at Newark’s Liberty International Airport. Richard Dean Anderson, call your agent – or maybe your lawyers. (Reference: Pandora’s Clock, dir. Eric Laneuville; written by David Israel based on a novel by John J. Nance; with Richard Dean Anderson, Daphne Zuniga, Jane Leeves, and Richard Lawson; NBC Television, 1996). An airliner landed. A team from the CDC surrounded it. They would not let any passengers off until they had taken charge of a sick passenger. They were looking for someone carrying Ebola. But Barack Obama won’t restrict travel from West Africa, site of the current outbreak. […]

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