Saturday, October 18, 2014

Ebola Fears May Be Unreasonable

But the fears may themselves become a real issue.  From the October 17, 2014 Daily Beast:
Jason Charles knows the exact moment he will lead his wife and five kids out of their Harlem home, pile into a car, and take off for the wilderness. It will be not long after Ebola reaches the population of New York City, hospitals overflow, and looting begins—when the first riots break out on the streets of Manhattan.
“Right now it isn’t bad, but if the first case happens in New York, you start hearing about hundreds or thousands of people getting sick and it shotguns through the city, then you want to start getting your plan together to leave,” says the 37-year-old fireman and dedicated prepper. When that happens, he says, “it’s a free fall, that’s the system breaking down.”

But the moment of evacuation is delicate. Skipping work, pulling the kids out of school—all of these decisions have lasting consequences. “If you leave too early, you look like an idiot; if you leave too late, you could be dead,” Charles says.

Nationally, the number of Americans concerned that Ebola will shoot through the population is skyrocketing. According to a Wednesday poll by the Harvard School of Public Health, 52 percent of Americans surveyed said they believe the country will experience a large outbreak in the coming year, while 38 percent said they believed they or a family member would be infected. To be sure, there have been just three cases diagnosed in the U.S.

1 comment:

  1. As one who has been arguing that the problem is minimal in the US, I have to agree that it's worse than I thought - precisely because of fear. I don't say that to condemn those who are fearful, but as a reality.

    About a decade ago, I was possibly exposed to rabies by sharing for a week a jungle thatched roof hut with a bat (in an area experiencing a rabies outbreak). When in High School, I had slept in caves full of bats, and participated in catching them for research - to read bands on them by scientists. I even had a pet bat that I kept in the refrigerator (so it would hibernate).

    But... Since then I have also long been a follower of emerging infectious diseases, and had learned that 50% of rabies cases in the US are in people who slept in a room with a bat and did not notice bat bites.

    So... when I got back to the US, I notified rabies control to see what they would do. The state rabies control director called me back at 9PM on New Years Eve with an unequivocal order to go "right now" to a specific ER to get rabies shots that they had arranged.

    And, I did that. Rabies is a very deadly disease, and the thought of going months worrying if I had it was too much (it has a long potential incubation period). My former high school biology teacher thought I was being silly. It didn't matter - fear won.

    Ebola is similar. It isn't as deadly as rabies, but it is deadly enough.

    So... we need to stop people from coming in from those countries. Even if nobody else is infected by them, the cost in fear and the resultant economic cost will be too much.

    Our President has shown today how out of touch he is by ignoring this reality. And, it hardly raises confidence that he appointed as a "Ebola czar" a political hack! A competent president wouldn't need another "czar" anyway.