The insane Christian conservative reaction to Ebola

November 2, 2014

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Good afternoon:

Crane and I went for a hike today.

This is going to be a really short post.

We recommend everyone read Dangerous Rhetoric in Slate Magazine by Joel Baden and Candida Moss. It compares the shameful treatment by the media, politicians, and the public of Ebola patients Thomas Eric Duncan and Dr. Craig Spencer.

Guess which one was treated like a criminal.

While we’re on the subject of Ebola, here’s Five Crazy Conspiracy Theories About Ebola That Conservatives Actually Believe by Brian Tashman in Right Wing Watch.

If you are wondering why right wing self-described Christian fundies are so freaking crazy, here is an interesting article that offers mental illness as an explanation. The article at Alternet is How Conservative Christianity Can Warp the Mind by Marlene Winell and Valerie Tarico.

Have a pleasant evening and let us know what you think.

Louisiana health officials deserve a Darwin Award for catastrophic stupidity

October 31, 2014

Friday, October 31, 2014

Good morning:

I nominate Louisiana health officials for a Darwin Award. In what has to be one of the most insanely stupid, anti-science and fear driven decisions ever made, Louisiana health officials have decided to sabotage the world’s best hope for the discovery of a cure for Ebola and other hemorrhagic and tropical diseases as well as the development and implementation of practical and effective policies for dealing with outbreaks of those diseases.

Yes, I kid you not. The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene is scheduled to have its annual conference at the Sheraton New Orleans this weekend, but the researchers who have spent time in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone studying the outbreak recently will not be attending the conference because, if they do, the Louisiana health officials are going to quarantine them in their rooms for 21 days.

NPR reports,

Dr. Piero Olliaro had big plans for the conference.

“This is the place to be,” says Olliaro, a researcher at Oxford University who specializes in setting up clinical trials to test drugs in the developing world. “It’s once a year. This is where you get to meet all the others.”

Olliaro was going to present several papers on his recent work involving treatments for malaria and river blindness. But two weeks ago he was in Guinea for the World Health Organization scouting a site to test an experimental Ebola medication.

Yesterday Olliaro got a letter from the Louisiana health department saying that anyone who’d been in Sierra Leone, Liberia or Guinea in the past 21 days would be quarantined.

The letter goes on to say, “We see no utility in you traveling to New Orleans simply to be confined to your room.”

Fear is the mind killer.

We will never know, but the inspiration for a cure to Ebola that might have come from the cross-fertilization of ideas that occurs at meetings like this one will not happen for another year.

Meanwhile, the catastrophic suffering and loss of life will continue to increase exponentially.

Policy should never be determined by fear

October 26, 2014

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Good morning:

Policy should never be determined by fear.

For example, on Friday, Governor Cuomo of New York and Governor Christie of New Jersey imposed a mandatory 21-day quarantine on people arriving from West Africa who have had contact with Ebola patients. They acted without consulting infectious disease experts or giving much, if any thought to how or by whom the quarantine should be implemented.

They also failed to give due respect and consideration to our returning medical volunteers whose heroic and selfless efforts to comfort and save those afflicted with Ebola deserve recognition and our heartfelt thanks.

Instead, read what happened to Kaci Hickox, a nurse who has basically been jailed in mandatory quarantine in a New Jersey hospital for 21 days after returning from Sierra Leone on Friday, despite testing negative for Ebola.

In her letter to the Dallas News, she describes “a frenzy of disorganization, fear and, most frightening, quarantine.” Her letter begins,

I arrived at the Newark Liberty International Airport around 1 p.m. on Friday, after a grueling two-day journey from Sierra Leone. I walked up to the immigration official at the airport and was greeted with a big smile and a “hello.”

I told him that I have traveled from Sierra Leone and he replied, a little less enthusiastically: “No problem. They are probably going to ask you a few questions.”

He put on gloves and a mask and called someone. Then he escorted me to the quarantine office a few yards away. I was told to sit down. Everyone that came out of the offices was hurrying from room to room in white protective coveralls, gloves, masks, and a disposable face shield.

One after another, people asked me questions. Some introduced themselves, some didn’t. One man who must have been an immigration officer because he was wearing a weapon belt that I could see protruding from his white coveralls barked questions at me as if I was a criminal.

To read the rest of her letter, go here.

This policy is ill informed and wrong on so many levels that I hardly know where to begin. Not only does it violate civil liberties and disrespect people who have risked their lives without financial compensation to save lives, but it also discourages others from volunteering at a time when medical assistance is desperately needed to prevent Ebola from spreading.

Ebola Best and Worst-Case Scenarios

September 24, 2014

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Good morning:

Jury selection continues today in the Michael Dunn retrial.

Crane and I are sitting across from each other in a McDonald’s where we are enjoying free coffee and WiFi. We have reached our destination and we will get hooked up to the internet tomorrow afternoon. We will resume regular posting late tomorrow or Friday.

Crane just posted an article at Firedoglake updating readers on the Ebola epidemic. Read it below.

Meanwhile, jury selection continues today in the Michael Dunn retrial.

Ebola Best and Worst-Case Scenarios

By Crane-Station

On Tuesday, the CDC issued a report based on an epidemiological model, that projected a top-range (worst-case) estimate of Ebola cases in West Africa- what the number could reach – by January 20, 2015 – as well as a best-case scenario. Voa News explains:

Between 550,000 and 1.4 million people in West Africa could be infected with the Ebola virus by January 20, 2015, according to a report issued on Tuesday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The top range of the estimate, 1.4 million, assumes that the number of cases officially cited so far, 5864 according to the count kept by the World Health Organization, is significantly underreported, and that it is likely that 2.5 times as many cases, or nearly 20,000, have in fact occurred.

The CDC epidemiological model is based on August numbers, and do not take into consideration the recent US government announcement that it will send 3000 troops into Africa as part of the Ebola relief effort. The best-case projection involves getting 70 percent of the patients into facilities where risk of transmission is reduced, as well as burying the dead safely, which could potentially bring the epidemic to an end by January 20.

Extensive, immediate actions- such as those already stated- can bring the epidemic to a tipping point to start a rapid decline in cases,” CDC said in a statement.

Voa News is also reporting that in Liberia, the number of Ebola cases has been doubling every few weeks, posing a threat to the social, economic and political fabric of the country, as it impacts forestry, mining and agriculture.

In the meantime, experimental Ebola drugs will be tested in West Africa. Ebola is an RNA viral infection with no current cure. Details regarding the testing are “under discussion.” Apparently, three drug companies are working with WHO, to develop fast-track protocols.

Also, since Ebola does spread through bodily fluids, and since it can be transmitted from a dying and dead victim to the living, safe burial practices are a concern. Scientific American explains:

Unlike most pathogens, which cannot survive long on a corpse, however, Ebola does remain infectious after a person dies– for how long remains unknown. WHO notes that men who have survived the disease can still transmit the virus through their semen for up to seven weeks after recovery, providing a glimpse into the longevity of this potent pathogen.

In July, Smithsonian addressed the issue of culture, burial practices, and generalized mistrust that occurs, when strangers from another culture and country come to Africa, to retrieve, bag and disinfect loved ones, who are victims of Ebola:

Telling people that they can’t bury their family members according to tradition can be agonizing, and in order to reassure the living and prevent further infections, health workers follow strict guidelines when disposing of bodies. The WHO’s typical burial guidelines for emergency situations extort (sic) workers to prioritize the living over the dead and discourage mass burials, which can be incredibly demoralizing.

CDC – Ebola- Ebola Virus Disease- What’s New

New Modeling Tool for Response to Ebola Virus Disease

Ebola deaths exceed 140 and may have spread to Italy

April 22, 2014

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Good afternoon:

Inquitr is reporting today that the death toll from ebola has topped 140 and the disease has spread out of west Africa and reached Italy.

Almost as bad, the Italian authorities are attempting to disappear the story to prevent widespread panic.

Not a good idea with ebola.

Ebola: Mob attacks Doctors Without Borders medical center

April 5, 2014

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Good afternoon:

Extremely bad news from Guinea. VOA News is reporting:

The Guinean government appealed for calm Saturday, after a mob attacked a center where Ebola virus victims were being treated.

The attack took place in the southern town of Macenta on Friday, at a center run by Doctors Without Borders.

Witnesses say some of the attackers accused the international relief group of bringing the deadly virus to the region.

The incident forced Doctors Without Borders to suspend treatment at the site and evacuate its team.

This is a terrible development as there are not enough medical professionals in Guinea to deal with this outbreak.

I fear the worst.

The death toll now stands at 93.


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Deadly Ebola epidemic in Guinea may spread beyond its borders

April 2, 2014

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Good afternoon:

I write today about an outbreak of Ebola in Guinea. The Canadian Press is reporting today that at least 70 people have died since last week.

The Ebola virus causes severe hemorrhagic fever in patients, in some cases leading to grisly deaths as patients bleed both internally and externally. Its initial symptoms — high fever, headache and weakness — can mimic malaria.

Joseph Gbaka Sandouno, a program unit manager with Plan International in the village of Gueckedou, said it’s been especially difficult for people to stay calm after having witnessed “frightening scenes where people have died with severe bleeding.”

Guinea is one of the poorest countries in the world. The disease first appeared in a remote corner of southern Guinea and has spread to Conakry, the seaside capitol with a population of 2 million people. Most of them live in slums without sanitation and access to clean water. Medical care is generally not available. Now that the disease has appeared in the capitol, health officials are concerned that it may spread rapidly throughout the slums killing many people.

Conakry is a port city with an international airport and it may be difficult to prevent the disease from spreading beyond Guinea’s borders. There is no cure for Ebola and this particular strain of the virus has up to a 90% fatality rate.


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