Tuesday, October 28, 2014

I'm Not Worried About Ebola Because: SCIENCE!


I don't understand why so many are dismissive of the concerns and fears (not panic, not hysteria) rational people have over the spread of ebola.

According to the CDC Q&As on Transmission:

Can Ebola spread by coughing? By sneezing?

Unlike respiratory illnesses like measles or chickenpox, which can be transmitted by virus particles that remain suspended in the air after an infected person coughs or sneezes, Ebola is transmitted by direct contact with body fluids of a person who has symptoms of Ebola disease. Although coughing and sneezing are not common symptoms of Ebola, if a symptomatic patient with Ebola coughs or sneezes on someone, and saliva or mucus come into contact with that person’s eyes, nose or mouth, these fluids may transmit the disease.

What does “direct contact” mean?

Direct contact means that body fluids (blood, saliva, mucus, vomit, urine, or feces) from an infected person (alive or dead) have touched someone’s eyes, nose, or mouth or an open cut, wound, or abrasion.

How long does Ebola live outside the body?

Ebola is killed with hospital-grade disinfectants (such as household bleach). Ebola on dry surfaces, such as doorknobs and countertops, can survive for several hours; however, virus in body fluids (such as blood) can survive up to several days at room temperature.
So if a doctor, for instance, returns from treating ebola patients, and has the virus, and then goes out into the public and let's say, rides the subway, or goes to a bowling alley, a rational person might be legitamtely concerned about the ebola virus spreading.

I can't find the following on any CDC or WHO website so it comes mostly from what they seem to be implying and conversations with a colleague who has a Masters Degree in Molecular Pharamacology. The reason I don't need to be worried about this doctor infecting me is because the "viral load" isn't big enough to cause infection. And we know this because the signal a carrier of the virus has reached the "viral load" is when he/she starts showing symptoms.

But hold on. Is the dangerous viral load level always and everywhere the same? Are the young, old, or sick capable of getting the virus at lower viral loads? Is there a gender or racial susceptibility or resistance that lowers or raises the levels at which the viral load becomes capable of transmission? If

And it's not just those with symptoms that are capable of spreading the virus. The dead no longer have fevers, and they are capable of spreading the virus. Also, according to WHO:

People are infectious as long as their blood and secretions contain the virus... Men who have recovered from the illness can still spread the virus to their partner through their semen for up to 7 weeks after recovery.

The CDC sites the following as signs and symptoms of Ebola:
  • Fever
  • Severe headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Weakness
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal (stomach) pain
  • Unexplained hemorrhage (bleeding or bruising)
Symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure to Ebola, but the average is 8 to 10 days.
Do I need ALL of these symptoms before my viral load reaches transmissable levels? If my fever is 100 my viral load is OK, but at 100.1 it isn't?

All these people who tell me not to be worried because: Science! are not mitigating my concerns. They are hiding behind a word, almost an incantation for them, rather than addressing questions I have about the way this virus spreads. 


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