Not because thousands have died in Africa. Not because tens of thousands have contracted Ebola in Africa.
No. All because we've had a couple of cases in the United States. Two hands worth of fingers is more than enough. A couple we brought here to treat. One guy brought it with him on a plane. He infected a couple of hospital workers. That's the thing. To get Ebola you have to go to where it is and then directly have contact with bodily fluids from someone showing symptoms. That's it.
I've been a "fan" of the filoviruses, as if one can Like something awful, for a long time. Marburg surfaced in 1967 -- Ebola in 1976. I was in college when I first heard about these hemorrhagic diseases. The worst strains of Ebola zaire have over a 90% mortality rate, kill in like two weeks and burn through a few villages in a relatively short time.
This strain isn't as lethal and struck in higher density populations with better access to hospitals than usual. That's why the numbers are so high -- it doesn't burn out so fast.
Of course facts aren't the strong suit of many Americans these days. Like I said the other day -- these blog posts are as much for me as to put my thoughts out there. I'm unlikely to cause any tectonic shifts in American politics or science literacy -- I'm sad about the latter.
Anyway, we've had three, count 'em THREE big Ebola news scares here in Grand Rapids, Michigan. That's right. Grand. Rapids. Michigan. Not Dallas, not Atlanta. Grand Rapids.
First there was word about a patient who Spectrum put into isolation. He was in Africa! Sure, maybe a thousand miles from the outbreak and offshore on an island, but... Must be Ebola! No, actually it was another hemorrhagic fever. I know better, but the comments on that story on Mlive were frothy all over the place. Funny, not one commenter asked, "Huh? There are other hemorrhagic fevers?"
Then there was a news item that said Grand Rapids WASN'T READY FOR AN EBOLA EPIDEMIC. Huh, you think so, Sparky? I don't think any city in the United States is ready for an Ebola epidemic. We've half a dozen cases. One death.
Oh, and this one male nurse brought here to be treated has been discharged and is going back to West Africa to help out. I mean, he's already had Ebola.
But tonight... big scare at Kent County Gerald R. Ford International Airport. A flight of 44 people from Dallas was parked off to the side. There were ambulances. Ebola! From Texas! Send the plane back! Don't let them get off. Burn them! Shoot the plane down! Nuke them from orbit -- it's the only way to be sure! ***
Turns out it was a group -- family? -- of five? -- all had colds. Coughing, sneezing, feeling bad. You know, a cold. But the flight crew decided to put them on oxygen masks. That upset the passengers, because EBOLA!
Now I'll grant that Grand Rapids has a fair share of people doing missionary work, so working in the target zone isn't impossible. But I'd guess that right now in the United States there'll be over a million times more people who are going to get the flu than have Ebola. And many of these people, eager to fight Ebola in our streets, haven't and likely won't have gotten flu shots.
As for the government. Sigh. Close the borders with Mexico! Bomb and burn those parts of foreign countries with Ebola! Complain that President Obama hasn't done enough. Or has an evil secret plan. He hasn't appointed an Ebola Czar! Despite holding up the nomination of the Surgeon General, cutting the budget at CDC and spending weeks of hearings grilling CDC execs in DC, rather than let them work in Georgia. And then complain he's overreaching when he does appoint someone to look over the Ebola response. Sigh.
Ebola seems to cause dementia. From afar. Without direct exposure.
*** It amuses me no end that this line from Aliens gets used on these pages enough, that the next word in the sentence is in the offered word list on the Kindle...