American Elephants

Ebola Is Not Airborne? Here’s A Slow-Motion Sneeze. by The Elephant's Child


The administration keeps telling us that Ebola is not airborne, so we don’t need to worry. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.

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The particles you can’t see – less than 10 microns – are the ones to worry about. These aerosol particles can come from vomit or other bodily excretions as well as cough and sneezing.
The original story from the authorities was that Ebola was spread by fluid contact with a broken mucous membrane – similar to HIV – then that moved to mucous membrane and then to skin contact — hmm.
It seemed to me early on in the epidemic that the spread had to be a limited (relatively close contact) aerosol mucous membrane infection i.e. like influenza but much less infective. No way that so many could be infected via broken m.m., like HIV, and unbroken skin is highly unlikely to be a portal of entry.
The infection of protected health care workers seems to agree with my thoughts. The survival of those health care workers suggests that serious supportive measures are enough to prevent death if intervention is early. However, to send thousands to the centre of the epidemic seems to me, at least, foolhardy as the potential for early diagnosis and ‘treatment’ will necessarily be reduced.
A 21 day incubation period is a best guess average and the fact that the viral load only increases to ‘infectivity’ once symptoms occur e.g. temperature – a variable, instrument biased measurement – is again a best estimate.
To prevent a world wide pandemic, which would overwhelm even Western health care systems, travel from the countries affected has to be severely controlled until a definitive diagnostic test has been developed and a vaccine has been produced. This does not prevent aid and Volunteers traveling to these places but does control their return.
I am NOT a virologist or specialist in Infective Tropical Diseases but check out the U.S. Centre of Disease Control and remove the political spin from their remarks.

Thirty five years of Intensive Care and Anesthesthiology


Comment by G. Watkins

There was a story on the news that the original outbreak had been traced to a village child who had been eating bat meat or other bushmeat. My understanding that the airborne danger came from finer particles that remain in the air, not just from a sneeze. But I thought the picture sort of emphasized the statements made by the administration are meant to calm panic, not to be necessarily accurate. It just seems that there is a lot that we don’t know, including if the 21 day incubation period is really long enough. The refusal to ban travel seems remarkably stupid, and what on earth do they mean by “going underground?” Taking temperatures at airports is meaningless, and if they believe it to be effective — stupid, and if they know it’s ineffective — also stupid. People would much prefer to be told: “Here’s what we know,” and “here’s what we don’t know yet” in a straightforward manner, which would allow some measure of confidence.

Too many agencies claiming authority, and Dr. Frieden has done a dandy job of adding to the mistrust. Straight talk breeds confidence, even when you admit incomplete knowledge. Everything you say makes complete sense to me. Thanks.


Comment by The Elephant's Child

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