Ebola

First Ebola Case in U.S. Confirmed. Don't Panic!

|

Ebola
SierraExpressMedia

CNBC is reporting that Texas Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas has stated that it is treating a patient for the Ebola virus. The patient had recently traveled back from Liberia where the disease is spreading nearly without control. The person was not symptomatic during the flight. Four American health care workers have been or are being treated for Ebola. 

Interestingly this case is within the time frame calculated earlier by epidemiological models. As I reported earlier this month

A new study in the journal PLoS Currents Outbreaks calculates that there is an 18 percent chance that a case of Ebola will arrive in the United States by the end of this month. The researchers inputed airline travel data and various outbreak scenarios into a computer model to come up with probabilty figures for the arrival of Ebola in 16 different countries. Is it time to panic? Absolutely not. The researchers also report that the likelihood that the disease would spread extensively in developed countries is tiny:

We observe that the expected value of the cluster size in the case of international spread is always rather small (in all countries mean<6; median<4). Large outbreak involving more than 10 individuals although potentially possible can be considered as very rare events (Detailed statistics per country are available upon request). This numerical evidence is good news, as it points out that effective management and isolation of cases is keeping the number of EVD (Ebola) cases to deal with to a very limited number, lowering the risk of losing control of the outbreak.

In other words, the number of people likely to be infected through contact with a person bringing Ebola to our shores maxes out at around 10 individuals.

Stay calm and carry on. 

My colleague Emily Ekins noted back in August that a USA Today and a Reason Rupe poll reported that 40 percent of Americans thought an Ebola outbreak was likely in a U.S. city. 

Will update after the Centers for Disease Control press conference later today. 

Update: CDC director Tom Frieden at the press conference on the Dallas Ebola case noted (1) that the virus is not spread when a patient is asymptomatic; (2) tracking and tracing the patient's contacts (mostly family) is ongoing; (3) people with contact with the patient will be isolated and monitored for the next 3 weeks or so; (4) lots of U.S. hospitals have the ability to isolate patients effectively; (5) in fact 4 earlier cases of Lassa fever and one case of Marburg virus were successfully isolated in the U.S.; (6) on the international front not one of the 600 contacts of Ebola patients in Nigeria came down with the disease; (7) and the same thing for 60 contacts in Senegal.

Prediction: A virulent outbreak of newsreader panic will spread tonight.

NEXT: Headline of the Day: 'UMass to Review Policy on Students as Confidential Drug Informants'

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. HOLY SHIT HEMORRHAGIC FEVER IN THE MAINLAND EVERYONE PANIC RIGHT NOW. Time for me to loot something.

    1. Hey! Free TV’s!

      1. Don’t take the bloody ones!

        1. Don’t take the shitty ones either.

  2. Ron, didn’t you recently say that the risk of a confirmed Ebola case in the US due to migration was minimal?

    Disease was one of the biggest killers of the 19th and early 20th centuries; it’s still responsible for an enormous loss of life in less-developed countries. It’d be nice to have more to go on than “hopefully this will be different” when it comes to disease vectors.

    1. The difference is the mode of infection. Due to Ebola’s mode of infection, the disease is infinitely more likely to spread in third world countries than it is in the first world.

      1. Consider a virus with a similar transmission vector to Ebola:

        Hepatitis A

        1. Thank you, that is helpful.

          1. But you don’t get Ebola when the carrier is asymptomatic – and how often do you shake hands with someone covered in buboes and their own shit?

            1. I don’t feel comfortable answering that question.

    2. T: Presumably you are referring to my article, “Ebola: ‘Dress Rehearsal’ or Show Closer?” From the article:

      Don’t panic. Ebola may be “just a plane ride away,” but it is highly unlikely to become an epidemic threat in the United States and other rich countries. The virus is transmitted by close contact with the body fluids of infected people, making transmission much more difficult with Ebola than with a respiratory virus like influenza. This intimate mode of transmission makes it much easier for public health officials to trace people who come in contact with those infected by the virus, to monitor them, and to isolate them from the public.

      Which is exactly what the Texas Department of Health and the CDC are doing now.

      Really, despite Wolf Blitzer’s slightly panicky demeanor on CNN, your chances of getting Ebola in the U.S. are indeed minimal

      1. Yes, that was the article I was referring to, thank you. I’m not exactly panicked nor do I necessarily buy that this is going to get to the point of a pandemic, but isn’t AIDS even more restricted in how it spreads? Yet, it ended up becoming a worldwide disease which has killed millions in the US?

        Certainly, the assurances of the sort of government officials who run the TSA isn’t exactly reassuring to the likes of those of us in the forums.

        1. T: One huge difference – HIV takes years to manifest as AIDS which made tracing and isolation as a public health measure impractical.

        2. HIV can be spread when the patient is asymptomatic, and it has a very long latent period. It’s a disease that was made to cause an epidemic.

          Ebola is (probably) slightly more easily spread, but it doesn’t appear to be transmissible in its incubation period. Since you (well, at least ?I?) are unlikely to want to hang around someone who is bleeding from every orifice, the disease is unlikely to become epidemic.

          Ebola is probably too virulent for its own continued survival. A similar fate *may* have befallen the clade of Y. pestis responsible for the Black Death.

          1. Left untreated modern Bubonic plague is still quite lethal. It just happens to be easily treated today, and its vectors are mostly controlled with proper sanitation.

            1. And Ebola is moderately treatable (even if only through palliative care) and its vectors are mostly controlled with proper sanitation.

      2. The virus is transmitted by close contact with the body fluids of infected people, making transmission much more difficult with Ebola than with a respiratory virus like influenza. This intimate mode of transmission […]

        Um, I don’t consider touching something that someone sweated on to be very “intimate.”

    3. Hey, if it’s not homophobic, xenophobic or racist..

      THEN THERE’S NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT!!

      Don’t worry, be stupid!

      1. Do you have anything substantive to contribute?

  3. Ok, so I am now officially fascinated by the phenomenon of Arabic “twerking”. There are literally hundreds of videos like this up on Youtube.

    1. I am shocked. Truly shocked.

      1. At @ 5:52 they even “make it rain”!

        1. Yes, but they’re wearing bags on their heads, which means its more ‘cultural’ and ‘traditional’ which therefore makes it beyond reproach, whereas Western Culture is chauvinistic and patriarchic and shit.

          1. You’re thinking about this all wrong. We need to focus on our cultural similarities. Shaking asses are the path to long-standing peace between the West and the Middle East.

        2. Thank you, I needed a laugh

        3. ‘Arabic Twerk Factory’ would make a good band name.

          1. Twerkistan.

    2. The comments are more comprehensible than usual for a YouTube video.

  4. “””””The researchers also report that the likelihood that the disease would spread extensively in developed countries is tiny:””””

    What about the undeveloped areas of developed countries? There are lots of places and groups in the US which have a higher level of infectious disease?

    1. The only place that I can think of that approaches African levels of both malnutrition and lack of infrastructure are dirt poor Indian reservations. And that’s just a maybe.

      Even Appalachian-style rural poverty would be enviable from the perspectives of the denizens of those countries afflicted by the Ebola epidemic.

      1. Ebola is not effected by malnutrition nor somewhat by infrastructure, its effected by people who do things which spread infectious disease and at the same time have a history of not protecting themselves from those infections.

        How about someone coming to the US and meeting family and friends with lots of touching and not having a regular doctor so they wait before contracting them with symptoms.

        I notice with the above report they don’t mention how many people this person directly interacted with in the US or on the flight to the US or at whatever airports he or she was at.

        1. Ebola is not effected by malnutrition nor somewhat by infrastructure

          No, but its treatment is. Clean running water is a prerequisite for washing body fluids of a hospital ward’s floor, no? Likewise, if one is healthy before contracting the disease because they had proper nutrition, they would have a better chance of surviving the infection.

          How about someone coming to the US and meeting family and friends with lots of touching

          You attempt to lecture me about what “Ebola is not effected by”, yet you display complete and total ignorance of how exactly the virus is transmitted.

          I think it’s clear that you have nothing meaningful to add to this conversation.

          1. HM, cut him a break. Maybe his family tongues each other on meeting.

            1. Maybe they have that custom where they spit on their hands before shaking?

              1. They take the Fremen water bond?

            2. Maybe his family tongues each other on meeting.

              Wouldn’t have to – there’s a number of ways “bodily fluids” and “germs” can be spread without slobbering on one another. When you cough or sneeze, do you hold your hand over your mouth? If so, do you immediately go and wash your hands – or do you just wipe them on something – or on nothing?

              That’s only one example. It’s surprising how many people’s hands test positive for fecal bacteria after using a public restroom – even though they have washed their hands before leaving. Sweaty public gyms are another good place to contract something.

              And lest anyone think our oh so modern, first world hospitals are disease proof, I’d like to mention that many of them are hotbeds of MRSA and other resistant strains of bacteria. In fact, one of the easiest ways I’ve found to catch just a cold or even the flu is to visit a hospital waiting room or cafeteria.

              1. Yes, about 75,000 people a year die in the US of hospital-acquired infections. And all our hospitals will be able to provide the clean-room conditions Ebola requires? I would not bet that way.

          2. I think it’s clear that you have nothing meaningful to add to this conversation.

            So you are telling me that Ebola is not spread by touch?

            Here is part of what the CDC says

            “”Ebola is spread through direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with
            ?blood or body fluids (including but not limited to urine, saliva, feces, vomit, and semen) of a person who is sick with Ebola
            ?objects (like needles and syringes) that have been contaminated with the virus

            1. I’ve read in one news story that even perspiration can transmit the virus.

            2. So you are telling me that Ebola is not spread by touch? … Ebola is spread through direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes)

              I don’t touch things, especially body fluids, with my open wounds or mucous membranes.

              Do you?

              1. See my link above about Ebola spread by a handshake.

                1. It’s not spread by handshake because it enters the pores of your skin. It’s “spread by handshake” the same way the Flu or a cold is spread by handshake in that if you get the virus on your hands and don’t wash them before you touch your nose, eyes or mouth, then the virus can enter your mucous membranes.

                  Again, in the United States, we still have plenty of latex gloves and N95 respirators for all our doctors.

                  And, based on your deep understanding of the vectors of horizontal transmission of the Ebola virus, I’m sure you have already stocked up upon gloves and masks.

                  That is if your fear of contracting Ebola is genuine, as opposed to just using it as the latest excuse in which to agitate for the construction of the Great Wall of Texas, of course.

                  1. I don’t have a personal fear, for various reasons. But I think there’s a distinct chance of a larger outbreak.

                    And I don’t see it as an “excuse.” It’s more like Yet Another Example of how blas? so many people are about protecting the country. “Millions of illegals? Deadly diseases coming in on airplanes? Pshaw, that’s just fear-mongering! We’re too big to fail!”

              2. Yes you do. All the time.

                It’s called the sense of smell.

                Or, if you are around people who are sweating, excreting, coughing, sneezing, spitting and are breathing or seeing.

  5. Dear Reason Magazine

    Just as the mention of “terrorists” does not require endlessly-reproduced images of people being beheaded to accurately convey a public understanding of what it is they do…

    … mentions of the Ebola Virus do not require photographs of…whatever the fuck that is… skin eruptions… ugh….

    I mean, come on. Do we post pictures of diseased lungs every time ‘smoking’ is mentioned?

    I’m just saying. The word ‘tasteless’ comes to mind.

    1. Don’t go weak sister on us now, GILMORE.

      1. Let’s go to dinner! Next time you see me, don’t be surprised if I’ve eaten!

      2. “skin diseases” is one of my pet-peeves.

        That, and the Terrorist Obstacle Course-Cliche

  6. errrbolllllah! Seriously though, i hope that it doesn’t start to spread. I touch enough questionable stuff in downtown dallas that I’ll be one of the first to go.

  7. Let’s just hope it doesn’t go airborne.

    1. Indeed: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09…..share&_r=0

      The second possibility is one that virologists are loath to discuss openly but are definitely considering in private: that an Ebola virus could mutate to become transmissible through the air. You can now get Ebola only through direct contact with bodily fluids. But viruses like Ebola are notoriously sloppy in replicating, meaning the virus entering one person may be genetically different from the virus entering the next. The current Ebola virus’s hyper-evolution is unprecedented; there has been more human-to-human transmission in the past four months than most likely occurred in the last 500 to 1,000 years. Each new infection represents trillions of throws of the genetic dice.

      1. Calling bullshit here.

        Genetic mutations changing the entire mode of transmission? Not happening.

        1. Yes, that happens.

          And don’t forget the insect-borne possibility.

  8. Well, nothing to worry about, our troops are busy fighting the all new WOE, War on Ebola.

    I’m not really clear yet on just how troops fight a virus.

      1. Obama is a hypochlorite!

    1. Will the WoE feature midnight raids on suspected carriers?

      1. I’m not really sure since the suspected carriers may not have much to asset forfeit, but hopefully they have dogs so that the troops can play cops.

        1. Troops don’t shoot dogs – only people.

  9. CDC director Tom Frieden at the press conference on the Dallas Ebola case noted (1) that the virus is not spread when a patient is asymptomatic;

    There’s asymptomatic (as in, shows no symptoms detectable by a trained professional) and asymptomatic (as in, I had no idea that headache as a symptom).

    I’m somewhat less than completely reassured.

  10. MM: FYI:

    Symptoms of Ebola include:
    Fever (greater than 38.6?C or 101.5?F)
    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. Recovery from Ebola depends on the patient’s immune response. People who recover from Ebola infection develop antibodies that last for at least 10 years.

    1. Plus, ZMapp FTW!

    2. There isn’t really any symptoms there that would distinguish it from anything else, except for the hemorrhage. And if I understand correctly, that does not happen in all cases.

      1. I do wonder whether distinguishing this will be more of a problem when influenza is in season.

        1. I had the same thought, because cold and flu season isn’t all that far away. Have to wonder how badly patients reporting suspected symptoms will impact the healthcare system in this country. Oh wait – we have Obamacare now. Not to worry.

    3. Men who recover from Ebola can still transmit the virus in their semen for months.

    4. What’s an explained hemorrhage?

    5. Not to be confused with Ebrola, which is characterized by mansplaining hemorrhages.

      1. I loled.

        But seriously, I think by explained hemorrhage they mean something that can be attributed to something else. Like a woman who goes into labor might experience hemorrhaging because of it.

        1. Or like all the women who have explained “hemorrhaging” every month.

  11. “My colleague Emily Ekins noted back in August that a USA Today and a Reason Rupe poll reported that 40 percent of Americans thought an Ebola outbreak was likely in a U.S. city.”

    God bless Reason. I send them money and everything.

    But why is that piece of information useful?

  12. BOOYA body cameras – clearing another officer in a shooting

    http://m.wesh.com/news/Police-…..o/25383422

    1. And if they wouldn’t have cleared the police, the footage would be “missing”

      1. Don’t be a bigot by pointing out the obvious, kbo. Only bigots mistrust our fine men in blue (and sometimes tactical SWAT gear).

      2. You mean the way the footage for that South Carolina cop who shot the motorist for obeying the cop’s instructions went missing? Oh, wait. . . .

  13. “Don’t panic,” said NOT the “first Ebola case in US”?

  14. If we really wanted to tackle this problem, the first thing we should do is eliminate 90% of government and bureaucracy, and put qualified people in charge of solving the issue who have nothing to gain politically.

    So, do we want to solve this, or not? Or is it just another crisis that is too good to waste?

    1. I don’t think the authorities are thinking: “Oh boy! A crisis we can use to our advantage!”

      I think it’s more likely to be something like: “Oh shit! This will panic the rubes by reinforcing the stereotype of disease-ridden foreigners, and possibly slow our plan to bring enough Third Worlders into the US to ensure that Democrats are elected forever!”

    2. . . . and put qualified people in charge of solving the issue who have nothing to gain politically.

      Jesus man. You’d think by now you’d understand (as a libertarian) that those people *do not exist*.

      Things are fucked as they are because people keep insisting that the next batch of ‘Top Men’ will be qualified and have nothing to gain politically and they keep ending up being the same as the last batch.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.