“You cannot get it [Ebola] from just riding on a plane or a bus,” the President said.
…which would be true, unless, say, someone with Ebola were to cough on you. Then it wouldn’t be true.
How infectious is Ebola? So infectious that a nurse in Spain was, officials say, infected by touching her face while removing her gear. So infectious that the average patient infects 1.5 to 2 other people. If unchecked, that would mean that it would spread to every person on earth in 20-34 iterations, in less than a year. No, that won’t happen, but the World Health Organization is projecting 10,000 cases per week in Africa by December. (By the way, WHO’s projection in September for the number in late October was overly optimistic; it fell short by a factor of three.) Each patient requires 20 health workers to care for him or her, at a cost, if the most up-to-date technology were used, of $500,000 per patient. In Africa, the average income is about $2,500 a year, and the continent, with 24 percent of the population, has three percent of the healthcare workers. By the math, we are skewered.
How infectious is Ebola? Scientists studying the virus in the laboratory are supposed to do so in what are basically spacesuits, completely sealed with their own oxygen supplies, with airlocks and ultraviolet lighting and showers and other aspects of “BSL-4” (Biosafety Level 4) laboratories, the most secure labs known to man. Only smallpox, which is believed extinct in the wild, and the viral hemorrhagic fevers such as Hantavirus, Machupo, and Ebola and its cousin Marburg are treated this carefully. Rabies and yellow fever are only BSL-3.
How infectious is Ebola? Jonathan V. Last notes in The Weekly Standard (http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/six-reasons-panic_816387.html):
In August, Science magazine published a survey conducted by 58 medical professionals working in African epidemiology. They traced the origin and spread of the virus with remarkable precision—for instance, they discovered that it crossed the border from Guinea into Sierra Leone at the funeral of a “traditional healer” who had treated Ebola victims. In just the first six months of tracking the virus, the team identified more than 100 mutated forms of it. . . .
By the by, that Science article written by 58 medical professionals tracing the emergence of Ebola—5 of them died from Ebola before it was published.
One of the legitimate responsibilities of government is to protect the public health—that is, to protect us from infectious disease and from disease caused by a common environmental source. But President Obama has appointed, to public health positions, Prohibitonists rather than public health experts: the likes of
Surgeon General nominee Dr. Vivek Murthy (a crusader against self-defense rights, so unqualified for a public health position that he’s reportedly opposed by ten Senate Democrats) and CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden (father of New York City’s trans fat ban and the city’s attempted ban on jumbo sodas. Also, its counterproductive, expensive effort to have the government write restaurant menus, a policy so absurd that it was included in Obamacare). Now there’s an Ebola Czar, Ron Klain, who’s an expert on political slush funds such as Fannie Mae, the “stimulus,” and the “green” energy program.
Public health agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (formerly the Communicable Disease Center) have strayed far from their legitimate areas of concern. Instead of protecting the public from infectious disease, such agencies have promoted bike paths and neighborhood grocery stores and, in schools across the country, restrictions on school lunches that are the laughingstock of the Eighth Grade, and they have tried to use the power of government to control private, personal behavior. (Not all behavior. For example, personal behavior that spreads HIV was deemed too personal for the government to restrict—correctly so in my view, but the inconsistency exposes the hypocrisy of the Prohibitionists.)
There’s a term for this sort of shift in purpose: “mission creep.” When NASA becomes an agency for promoting Global Warming theory, and outreach to the Muslim world, and funneling taxpayers’ money to the President’s supporters (for “private” space vehicles), rather than an Americans-in-space agency, we end up having to rely on Putin’s Russia to fly our people into space. When the U.S. military is re-purposed as an organization for humanitarian relief or for nation-building, it ceases to be effective at killing people and blowing things up and winning wars. When, as proposed—seriously—the Post Office becomes a payday-lending agency, it won’t deliver the mail very well. And when the CDC strays from its original, legitimate mission, to protect us from infectious diseases (it’s in Atlanta because that’s where malaria was), we are left without an agency that’s competent to protect us from Ebola.
Just to prove that I’m not being a Monday morning quarterback—that I’m not just criticizing with the benefit of hindsight—I’ll note that I was pointing to this problem years ago.
Here’s a sequence from my late, lamented comic strip, The Gentleman from Lickskillet. (I was the creator/writer; the artist and co-creator was the brilliant Kevin Tuma). Five years ago, we satirized the ways in which the public health establishment was moving away from public health and, instead, focusing on politics, Political Correctness, and Prohibitionism. Note the reference, in the 10/31/09 Halloween strip, to “mission creep.”
TGFL, which was published on the ConservativeHQ.com website, was a comic in the genre of Doonesbury—an ensemble of characters, their stories told in serial form, with chapters made up of a week’s six daily strips (Monday through Saturday). The strips below feature Annie Dill, wife and mother, respectively, of the two main characters. She was pregnant at the time. This sequence was inspired by the flu vaccine shortage of 2009 and the effort by pregnant women to obtain the vaccine.
FYI, the organization “KERNEL” mentioned in the 10/30/09 strip was a group of “community organizers”/vote-fraud artists to whom corrupt government officials funneled taxpayers’ money. It is fictional, and bears no resemblance to the real-life organization ACORN. Heh-heh.
Click HERE to download the first year of The Gentleman from Lickskillet.