Friday, July 11, 2014

One of those headlines I can't quite believe

"Liberia: JFK Nurses Abandon JFK ER Ward Over Suspected Ebola Death"

And you shouldn't either, once you read the story, which refers to the ER staff, but doesn't actually go into any detail about how many left or where they went. It does say that a "case management" team went to handle matters. I suspect that most of the staff have a better idea of what the risks are than your average reporter. Quite probably some left in haste, but I'd guess that most didn't. I admit that panic can be contagious, but I'd still bet most people stayed around, though maybe not in the ER. ("We should sanitize the place." "Great idea! You go first.")

Back in the villages they have been hiding people with Ebola. There's a long tradition of kidnapping people to use body parts in magic. It didn't happen often--there was much more fear of it than actual instances--but it happened often enough to keep the fear alive. So if people in scary garments take your cousin away and you never see her again--what do you suspect, and what do you warn people about? It doesn't matter if the people telling you about the risks are important people--a Senator was caught trying to cement his power with some human sacrifice magic a few decades back.

So nobody really knows how many are sick.


Texan99 said...

I've been reading that Ebola is remarkably easy to deal with safely. It's actually rather hard to transmit. It's not airborne. Cleanup with dilute bleach solution or even soap works quite well to control its spread in a ward. Symptoms come on so quickly that there's not a long contagious period in the general public. Ebola's mortality rate varies hugely according to the quality of supportive care; people who can get enough fluid replacement do surprisingly well, so you can find reports of anywhere from 10% to 90% mortality depending on the circumstances. On the other hand, it's a spectacularly miserable and ugly disease that's terrifying to witness. The upshot is that there are many other diseases that, objectively speaking, should cause more ER panic, but this one has a disproportionate psychological effect.

james said...

Unfortunately it is pretty easy to contract. 65 at a funeral, 15 contracted it, 10 died. Body fluids (and they generate a lot of them) are pretty contagious.

I kind of suspect that one pass, with bleach or whatever and due care, is probably not going to infect you. But repeated exposure to patient after patient eventually stacks the odds against you. A Ugandan doctor died in Liberia (and would you believe it, his wife wants to exhume his body and bring it back for proper burial in Uganda?)

Texan99 said...

I know it can be transmitted, but lots of diseases are harder to control and scarier for medicos, or at least should be.

It amazes me, really, that medical professionals can deal with the anxiety. You do that stuff for decades and it seems the odds would be sure to catch up with you. But they keep at it.