Ebola, CDC, and confusion

The biohazard symbol, a warning to follow protocol.
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) seem unable to make up their minds how a patient harboring Ebola can give it to someone else. Have they confused themselves beyond repair? Or has someone told them to lie to us?

CDC flip-flops on Ebola

The CDC publishes this PDF file on two ways someone can give a disease to another, other than through direct (kissing, intimate, etc.) contact. They define two kinds of spread:

  • Airborne spread happens when enough people cough or sneeze up tiny germ-laden droplets into the air. These droplets linger, and the germs survive, long after the infectious person (the reservoir of infection) has left the scene. Then a susceptible host (you or I, for instance) walks into the area, breathes in…and the rest is clinical history.
  • Droplet spread happens when an infectious person coughs or sneezes up larger droplets. These droplets fall to the nearest surface after the infectious person leaves. A susceptible person might catch the disease by touching a surface where those droplets have fallen (or landed), or by sitting and talking to the infectious person while that person is coughing or sneezing up a (literal) storm.

Ebola

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

The problem: the CDC lists Ebola among the diseases that can spread by droplets. Technically that is not the same as airborne. But it is the same mode of spread as, say, the plague (as in Yersinia pestis, or the Black Death).

The further problem: the CDC linked to that file on its own site yesterday. Today they took the link down. But the link is still live at time of posting. If it ever goes dead, Natural News captured a file like it. The two files say almost the same thing.

Yesterday Natural News trumpeted that “the CDC now admits it has been lying all along!” Today, of course, the CDC suppressed its own link. But Jerome R. Corsi at WND reports another item. The World Health Organization recommends anyone taking care of a patient with Ebola assume they are infectious and protect themselves against droplet spread.

This next bit of news might or might not relate to the problems at the CDC. Kaci Hickox, recently back from West Africa after a stint with Médecins sans Frontières, now is contesting her quarantine in her home State of Maine. Yesterday Natural News broke an interesting sidelight. She worked for the CDC. Furthermore she trained as an intelligence officer. What kind of intelligence? Intelligence on epidemics.

Now, of course, she is a disgrace and an embarrassment to the CDC. So the CDC disavowed her. Her page on LinkedIn.com no longer shows her having worked for the CDC. (In fact the page no longer exists; all attempts to follow it resolve to a “we’re sorry” page.)

What this means

The CDC has never behaved with such confusion before. Can they really suffer such confusion themselves? If true, someone needs to clean house, top-to-bottom, throughout that agency.

But it’s not true. Or at least not likely. More likely, the CDC are following orders to hide the Ebola danger.

Why should they do that? Because de facto President Obama has ruined himself over Ebola. To say the least, he let political correctness cloud his judgment. He refused, and still refuses, to stop travel to and from the affected region. (No aircraft, except special approved charters or Air Mobility missions, should fly in or out of that region until they contain the outbreak.) He insists no one should go under quarantine unless and until they become obviously sick. (Dr. Craig Spencer waited until he was “obviously sick” before checking in to Bellevue. Who might he have given the disease to in the meantime?)

That’s the least one can say. Suppose he deliberately wants to get a lot of people sick? Then he could declare “medical martial law,” in a scene out of the motion picture Outbreak, or the NBC-TV mini-series Pandora’s Clock.

If he does that, he risks even more opprobrium, on account of a supreme irony:

Ebola now has a case-fatality rate of seventy percent. (That is, out of ten who get it, seven will die.) That rate reflects the West Africa experience. But what else is highly prevalent in West Africa? Sickle-cell trait. One in four residents of West Africa have this trait. Their blood cells cannot carry oxygen as efficiently as those of people who don’t have the trait.

In America, one in twelve black persons carry sickle-cell trait. They might be just as vulnerable in America as in West Africa. The deplorable conditions make Ebola easier to catch. The sickle-cell trait is the worst reason Ebola kills so many people who do catch it.

Ask yourselves: the one patient who died of Ebola, Thomas Eric Duncan, was black. The two nurses who caught it, and the doctor and nurse who flew to Atlanta on a special charter, were not. No one has yet said whether Duncan had sickle-cell trait or not.

This already amounts to a case-fatality rate of twelve percent overall. And the one black patient who caught it, died. That equates to a case-fatality rate of one hundred percent. One does not compute such rates from one case only. But that death is in keeping with the seventy-percent case-fatality rate in Africa.

Imagine the effect of an outbreak of Ebola in this country, with a significantly higher case-fatality rate among blacks than among whites.

Obama wouldn’t be trying to start a race war, would he?

But now he has a problem. Whether he is deliberately trying to infect the American people, or else has been inexcusably careless, does not matter any more. Everyone knows he could have done more to stop Ebola from infecting anyone in the United States. And he did not. That’s one reason the Democratic Party faces a wipe-out in the upcoming midterm elections.

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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.

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