Friday, June 20, 2014

Pestilence: Ebola Outbreak 'Totally Out Of Control'

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is the deadliest ever seen and the virus is raging ‘‘totally out of control,’’ an official with Doctors Without Borders said Friday. The virus, which causes a particularly nasty form of hemorrhagic fever, has killed 337 people out of 528 infected, the World Health Organization says — making it by far the biggest and deadliest outbreak of Ebola since it was first identified in 1976.
‘‘The reality is clear that the epidemic is now in a second wave,’’ Bart Janssens, operations director for Doctors Without Borders in Brussels, told the AP. ‘‘And, for me, it is totally out of control.’’
The virus has been spreading since spring in three West African countries with fluid borders — Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. The biggest outbreak affected 425 people in Uganda in 2000, killing 224 of them. There’s no good treatment and no cure for Ebola, which is highly transmissible.

Earlier this year it was reported that the deadly Ebola virus had broken through all containment barriers making its way to seven west African countries. In an effort to stop widespread panic gripping the affected nations government officials told theReuters news service that they would no longer release infection rates and death tolls to the public. In recent months, with no updates being provided to the public, many outside of Africa assumed that the virus spread had subsided.

But according to the latest figures the Ebola contagion is now deadlier than ever. A senior official with the organization Doctors Without Borders spoke with theAssociated Press this week and warned that a second wave of the epidemic has taken hold, thus far claiming the lives of over 300 people with the infection confirmed in at least 550 people.

The Ebola outbreak ravaging West Africa is “totally out of control,” according to a senior official for Doctors Without Borders, who says the medical group is stretched to the limit in its capacity to respond.
“The reality is clear that the epidemic is now in a second wave,” Janssens said. “And, for me, it is totally out of control.”
The outbreak, which began in Guinea either late last year or early this year, had appeared to slow before picking up pace again in recent weeks, including spreading to the Liberian capital for the first time.
“This is the highest outbreak on record and has the highest number of deaths, so this is unprecedented so far,” said Armand Sprecher, a public health specialist with Doctors Without Borders.
The multiple locations of the current outbreak and its movement across bordersmake it one of the “most challenging Ebola outbreaks ever,” Fadela Chaib, a spokeswoman for the World Health Organization, said earlier in the week.
The outbreak shows no sign of abating and that governments and international organizations were “far from winning this battle,” Unni Krishnan, head of disaster preparedness and response for Plan International, said Friday.

Europe and the United States, while having issued warnings about the potential for Ebola to make its way out of Africa, have as of yet taken no immediate steps to contain the virus. Flights in and out of the region are still available and often pass right through major airport hubs like London.
The official fatality rate of those who contract the virus is over 50% and because containment efforts have failed to stop the spread at its source it is become increasingly likely that the virus could mutate as it touches a larger segment of the population. The virus is not airborne, so it is currently only passed via direct human-to-human contact. Researchers say that the possibility of the virus going airborne is small, but because of the rapid mutation capability of Ebola it remains a distinct possibility and the more exposure it has to humans the more advanced it can become.
If Ebola were to mutate and expand further it could be a serious humanitarian crisis. As Tess notes, most people will remain in denial, assuming that government emergency responders will be able to get a handle on it.
But, as evidenced by the events in west Africa over the last six months, sometimes even the best laid plans are not enough. By the time most people realize that the situation is out of control it will already be too late.

An Immigration and Customs Enforcement whistleblower, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to Infowars, asserted the recent surge of illegal immigrants is also bringing with it tuberculosis and other communicable diseases, confirming reports deadly, infectious illness is penetrating the US border.

“We do get our isolated cases of people with tuberculosis,” the agent admitted. “There may be a couple that come through that admit to having a communicable disease, but really we don’t check for communicable diseases, that’s not part of the screening process. Unless they tell us they’re sick, we have facilities for that.”

“A public health crisis, the likes of which I have not seen in my lifetime, is looming,” reports Dr. Elizabeth Lee Vliet. “Hardest hit by exposures to these difficult-to-treat diseases will be elderly, children, immunosuppressed cancer-patients, patients with chronic lung disease or congestive heart failure. Drug-resistant tuberculosis is the most serious risk, but even diseases like measles can cause severe complications and death in older or immunocompromised patients.”


Caver said...

Scott, you're the MD & expert here. Do we have a threat from Ebola?

I know a great deal about the disease but had always assumed it was a tropical or jungle environment limited bug.

Can it grow, spread, thrive in a more temperate environ such as the US or Europe?

Scott said...

That's interesting for a variety of reasons.

This is a good/bad scenario, with probably more bad than good. And also keep in mind, I am FAR from an expert in this field. Having said that:

1. The bad:

- I have read where it is a 14-15 day incubation period. Thats a very long incubation period and the longer the incubation period, the worse for spread, because so much time elapses before people know that they are sick.

- Just a few weeks ago, this appeared contained to a couple of small regions. Now, its in 7 countries. Thats a rapid spread IMO, and even though its not airborn, even with "direct contact" spread, that still seems somewhat contagious (the spread) and that could be a function of the long incubation.

- 50% mortality rate

- Planes are still going in and out of these regions.

The Good:

- It isn't airborn, so hopefully, with reasonable precautions, a lid can be kept on this, even within regions with which it is present.

The unnown:

- Further mutations. Mutations which could make it airborn or more contagious.

- I'm also not sure if it can live on hard surfaces over a certain period of time, as many virus' can do. That would change it completely - (unlike "direct contact')...I don't have this information.

Scott said...