Written by Roger Erickson
Many people may be getting a bit of the wrong impression about the impact of the Ebola virus. That's completely unnecessary. See the links below, and just Google the terms "Ebola virus" and "CDC."
Yet there's more to the story than you'll get from the CDC pages alone. Why so much Public Health and economic worry about Ebola, and how valid are those worries?
First, it's a tropical disease, and most people who contract it do NOT live in countries where what Americans consider rudimentary hospital care is quickly and easily available to all. Yet more and more people from countries where Ebola outbreaks frequently occur now emigrate to the USA. So this illness may have originated in Africa, but it's our problem now - and there are countless, similar variants lurking in every corner of the globe. Epidemiologists know about many emerging human diseases, and also know that there are endless new ones that will pop up as more of the world population travels. Nevertheless, all indications are that few, if any, victims in G7 countries will die of Ebola infection, since it's actually a fairly treatable illness if diagnosed early on. Best to read the Emory U, CDC and Wikipedia pages to keep up with emerging details.
Second, there aren't yet any widely available vaccines, though there's nothing to indicate that it will be difficult to create an Ebola vaccine. Why isn't there a vaccine for Ebola, when we just risked human health rushing to create vaccines for bizarre things like anthrax, and other infectious agents which are even more rare than Ebola? To answer that, go ask Congress (and yourself) why so many are panicking about "running out of fiat" - instead of investing in an ounce of prevention. The simple fact is that this whole Ebola scare need not have occurred, anymore than mortgage fraud was inevitable. In both cases, we - and our government - LET it happen. The whole Ebola scare is, at root, a failure to apply routine Public Health epidemiology preventive protections at a national scale.
Third, Jane and Joe Sixpack are typically told by uninformed journalists to worry bout the rate of spread of Ebola, and many are now worried about how many people may be infected by victims, between the time they contract the virus and the time when they are finally diagnosed and quarantined.
How much is there to worry about? Well, it depends on which country you are in. As with the AIDS virus, there is documentation that the Ebola virus is not as easily spread through sputem (e.g., aerosol from sneezing, spitting, coughing) as, say, the influenza virus.
That does NOT mean that the Ebola virus isn't excreted in saliva too. That may mean that the viral load in different fluids isn't always the same, or that small amounts of the virus can be inactivated or immobilized in the saliva or nasal mucous of recipients.
Best to read the CDC pages on Ebola transmission.
Commentary by the author
As always, some of the existing data may SEEM to be contradictory, but that is largely just another example of the general problem of coordinating large audiences despite discipline-specific semantics, where people use the exact same words to mean different things. Those differences in intended meaning are critical on a regular basis, and can spread confusion faster than a hopping infectious agent! That's something we're used to when trying to coordinate coherent policy across other disciplines too, like the many on Main Street vs. the few on Wall Street. :-(
For instance, "not spread through air" in epidemiology generally means that viable forms of the virus is rarely carried long distances by air, as can be the case with, for example, fungal spores. That phrase does NOT mean that you can't contract the virus if someone sneezes directly towards you from a few feet away, or if their sputem lands on a door-knob, lingers until you touch it, and then you put your finger in your mouth or nose.
What's known is that an ounce of prevention is a pretty good way to protect against emerging threats like Ebola transmission. Simple cleanliness measures help, e.g., washing hands, doorknobs and other surfaces, and being careful about travel to areas where disease outbreaks are reported.
I'm reminded to compare discussions about this new illness to discussions about the U.S. monetary and fiscal systems. Urging your nation to express current fiat on regulating exposure to both known risks and complete uncertainties would also help immensely. That last step would require arming yourself with a bit more knowledge about fiat currency operations, not just the epidemiology of infectious agents.
Pathological "Aggregate Fear of Fiat" as an emerging sociological disease. Whatever undetected social illness we have, it's constraining and even killing more people worldwide than Ebola, that's for sure. If left untreated, the infected masses are left in a feeble-minded condition, easily manipulated by the sociopaths that an informed electorate usually expresses immunity to, like we did in 1776, 1863 and 1933.