A Few Ebola Facts

At least, “facts” as gleaned from CNN.

1.  Health officials are “searching” for people who came into contact with the known Ebola victim in Dallas.  Great.  They pretty much deliberately did nothing to keep the plague out of the country and now that the inevitable has happened they’re running around trying to find people who might have gotten it.  Like trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube.

2.  You can get the virus from a handshake or a hug.  First the good news, or what would be good news except that it’s partially false:

But the first thing you should know is that it’s not very contagious — the virus isn’t spread through the air via coughs or sneezes like the common cold.

Then the bad news:

It’s spread through frequent contact with bodily fluids and can be spread only by someone who is showing symptoms…

Blood, sweat, feces, vomit, semen and spit. Basically any kind of fluid that comes from the body. People in West Africa are avoiding hugs and handshakes because the virus can be spread through the sweat on someone’s hand.

The uninfected person would have to have a break in the skin of their hand that would allow entry of the virus, CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta says. But “we all have minor breaks in our skin. And there is a possibility that some of the virus can be transmitted that way.”

Translation:  this disease is highly contagious.  It is not accurate to state that it is “not very contagious”, which is why the “good news” is not so good and the bad news is really, really bad.

Want more bad news?

While the Ebola virus is believed to be able to survive for some days in liquid outside an infected organism, Doctors Without Borders says, agents such as chlorine, heat, direct sunlight, soaps and detergents can kill it.

Translation:  you can get it even if you don’t directly have contact with an infected person.  It lies around on or in inanimate matter, waiting for an opportunity to infect another organism, such as you.  What are they implying, that we all carry around Clorox to use before we touch anything?  Not very contagious my ass.

3.  Want some more “comfort”?

While the CDC acknowledges it is possible for a person infected with Ebola in West Africa to get on a plane and arrive in another country — which is apparently what happened in the U.S. case — the chances of the virus spreading during the journey are low. That’s unless your fellow passenger is bleeding, sweating profusely or vomiting on you, of course.

“It is highly unlikely that someone suffering such symptoms would feel well enough to travel,” the International Air Transport Association said.

Sure, no one is ever sick with a fever or a cold or vomits on an airplane, all those air sickness bags all these decades have been totally unnecessary.  This is either obvious minimizing by CDC and the IATA, or both organizations are run by incompetents.  Feel safe now?

I probably lack qualifications to have too firm an opinion about it but nevertheless I think the spread of this terrible disease to North America could easily have been prevented (any infectious disease aficionados would be welcome to come over here and enlighten me), but the country’s leadership just didn’t want to.  All the Ebola casualties are on them.



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5 responses to “A Few Ebola Facts

  1. Honest Abe

    This is pretty scary. Not certain if you saw or read Stephen King’s “The Stand” but it shows how quickly disease can spread.


  2. I would be willing to bet that there are some people out there who will be immune because of bent receptors. They will be the lucky ones.


  3. Translation: this disease is highly contagious.

    No. It’s more contagious than venereal diseases, but it’s not transmitted through airborne particles in the manner of influenza.


    • Min

      If Ebola were highly contagious, we would have thousands, even hundreds of thousands of cases in the US by now. The epidemic would be worse than the Spanish Flu epidemic.


  4. Regarding “airborne particles”, there may be more to it:


    Beyond that, I guess “highly contagious” needs definition. Personally, I think any disease you can get without direct physical contact with an infected individual is highly contagious, although I would agree from everything I’ve seen that ebola is apparently not easy to get that way. But if it’s not impossible I would say it’s highly contagious.


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