Monday, October 6, 2014

Ebola update--Dallas patient worsening, containment, and false alarms

With Sunday over, it's time to follow upon the first Ebola case diagnosed in the U.S.  This time, ABC News leads this entry, just as they led This Week with the story.  Their report, Ebola Scare: Dallas on Edge, included the first images I've seen of the victim.

ABC News' Ryan Owens reports on the effort to contain the first case of Ebola diagnosed on U.S. soil. Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings weighs in on his city's response.
I'll have more of ABC News' coverage, which I found wide and sensationalistic, over the jump.  For a calmer and narrower perspective, Reuters reported Ebola patient in Dallas struggling to survive, says CDC head, which was the most popular article on their site tonight.
The first person diagnosed with Ebola in the United States was fighting for his life at a Dallas hospital on Sunday and appeared to be receiving none of the experimental medicines for the virus, a top U.S. health official said.

Thomas Eric Duncan became ill after arriving in the Texas city from Liberia two weeks ago, heightening concerns that the worst Ebola epidemic on record could spread from West Africa, where it began in March. The hemorrhagic fever has killed at least 3,400 people out of the nearly 7,500 probable, suspected and confirmed cases.

"The man in Dallas, who is fighting for his life, is the only patient to develop Ebola in the United States," Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said on CNN's "State of the Union."

In a media briefing with reporters on Sunday, Frieden said he was scheduled to brief President Barack Obama on Monday.
Reuters also captured Frieden on video in CDC: Dallas Ebola patient "taken a turn for the worse."

Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC, says the first patient diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S. has "taken a turn for the worse."
Follow over the jump for more from ABC News and Reuters plus a local scare reported by WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids and an analysis from The Guardian.

This Week had more on the outbreak in CDC's Tom Frieden on Ebola: 'We Will Stop it in its Tracks'.

CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden says he confident there will not be a widespread Ebola outbreak in the United States.
This is the official line, which I actually believe.  Right now, this is an isolated case that can be contained.  Future cases may be a different story, although the U.S. getting more prepared.  As for the politicization of the epidemic, that's unfortunate, but expected.  The calls for travel restrictions may not be effective, but they will be popular.  My students have been asking about them already.

One of the tabs on the first clip of "This Week" that I embedded was "Dr. Besser home form the hot zone."  That segment wasn't uploaded, but a comparable one that was part of "Good Morning America" on Sunday was.  It asked Is the US Doing Enough to Stop the Spread of Ebola?

Dr. Richard Besser returns from the hot zone in Liberia.
Besser makes a good point--the U.S. will not be completely safe until this epidemic is contained in west Africa and the U.S. needs to do more to make that happen.

Saturday's "World News Tonight" showed Besser leaving Liberia in Containing the Ebola Outbreak and What Travelers Should Expect.

What the CDC is doing here at home and abroad to stop the spread of the deadly virus.
As I wrote on Wednesday, Liberia is taking their task of preventing people from spreading the disease seriously.  Based on what's been happening since Duncan was diagnosed, it looks like the U.S. is finally doing so, too.

In No Ebola in Windsor, I described how Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids was preparing for Ebola.  WOOD-TV reported that the hospital used those preparations in Ebola scare at Spectrum Hospital in Grand Rapids.

A patient who presented with suspected Ebola symptoms triggered the emergency response plan at Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital.
Dengue isn't Ebola, but it is serious business and it is headed north into the U.S., as I described in Heat wave and climate change news for the week of Bastille Day and mentioned again in If you thought this year's flu season was bad, wait until climate change gets through with it.  That, however, is a threat that is decades away.  Ebola is immediate.

Speaking of immediate threats, Reuters reported Sunday that there is a High risk Ebola could reach France and UK by end-October, scientists calculate.
Scientists have used Ebola disease spread patterns and airline traffic data to predict a 75 percent chance the virus could be imported to France by October 24, and a 50 percent chance it could hit Britain by that date.

Those numbers are based on air traffic remaining at full capacity. Assuming an 80 percent reduction in travel to reflect that many airlines are halting flights to affected regions, France's risk is still 25 percent, and Britain's is 15 percent.

"It's really a lottery," said Derek Gatherer of Britain's Lancaster University, an expert in viruses who has been tracking the epidemic - the worst Ebola outbreak in history.
Based on this analysis, it seems that the U.S. was unlucky in getting a case diagnosed here before Europe.

Finally, The Guardian published this perversely reassuring report by Nicky Woolf Friday: Ebola isn’t the big one. So what is? And are we ready for it?.
Ebola is very unlikely to become the next Black Death

Though Ebola has a high fatality rate when contracted, it is not the thing that keeps most epidemiologists up at night. It could theoretically become pandemic – that is, an out-of-control global epidemic – but experts say that is unlikely.

Christophe Fraser, a professor of epidemiology at the medical research council center for outbreak analysis at Imperial College, London, described four factors that are crucial in determining how severe an epidemic will be: how easily the disease is transmitted; how feasible it is to develop a vaccine and a treatment; how long before symptoms are visible the patient is infectious; and the severity of the disease – what proportion of people who contract it die.

“Obviously if a virus is worse on all those scales,” he said, “that makes for a worse scenario. Ebola is very high on severity, and very low in terms of mode of transmission.” Ironically, this makes it safer – a disease that killed a smaller percentage of those who contract it but was more easily spread could reach and ultimately kill many more people.

Ebola is very unlikely to become the next Black Death. But that doesn’t mean something else won’t.
The rest of that paragraph leads off to other diseases that cause pandemics.  I'll leave that topic for another night so that I can conclude this installment of the Masque of Ebola, the Red Death.


  1. With all the panic being pumped by the Amerikan TV media, how long will it be before the herd stampedes, as the bloggers at The Automatic Earth have been predicting? Isn't Kunstler also ominous about unpredictable consequences when a critical mass of Duhmericans freak out and lose their shit? I think it's going to get vedddddddy interesting within the next month, with the hyper-anxiety being spat out about Ebola, the eeeeeeevil terrrrristz among us! and so many other topics. I'm so glad I reside in Australia and don't own a TV (deliberately.) Being back in North America for the past three weeks to visit old friends and relatives, and scanning a variety of the media content here, makes me feel like I'm in the middle of an asylum.

    1. Right now, Ebola is a good scare, just like a real-life zombie apocalypse, but we're not close to a mass freak-out. Things would have to be so bad that it both stops being infotainment, but also interferes with the rest of America's entertainment. The last time that happened was 9-11, when the real world was more important and interesting than "The Real World." The difference was that the event only spanned one day and things started to return to what passed for normal within a week. An epidemic would be ongoing and building for weeks.

      So, what would it take for Ebola to be that bad? I think it would take two generations of spread to someone other than a health-care worker in a hospital with a patient in residence. That would take about a month and a half from the beginning of a diagnosis.