How Ebola is spreading and the only REAL way to stop it…

10/31/2014 11:00

by Stephen Petranek

First, news broke last night that Dr. Craig Spencer, "a Harlem doctor who treated Ebola patients in West Africa before returning to New York last week tested positive Thursday for the deadly disease," NY Daily News reports.

Here's the timeline of Dr. Spencer's departure from Guinea, to when he started to feel sick, to his diagnosis of Ebola, courtesy of NY Daily News.

With an estimated worst-case scenario of 980,000 dead by Feb. 1, 2015, the need for more information on how Ebola is actually spreading -- rather than passive speculation (ahem, CDC) -- is crucial.


The study, funded by the NIH and conducted by independent researchers "dissects the current rates of the spread of Ebola and the likely impact of various strategies for controlling this epidemic," a Foreign Policy article reads.


The results are unsettling.


"First, the virus is spreading very fast now," the Foreign Policy article goes on, "with each infected person in Liberia and Sierra Leone passing Ebola on to, on average, 2.22 others. And contrary to the experiences in 20 past Ebola epidemics (in which the majority of cases were transmitted in hospitals or during funeral preparations), the virus is now primarily spreading in the general population through everyday activities.


"This means that the strategies that were used to successfully control past Ebola epidemics -- cleaning up the hospitals, quarantining infected souls within those newly sanitized facilities, and stopping traditional funeral practices -- will not have the same significant impact in the current catastrophe.


"Therefore, according to these researchers, even if there were a miraculous treatment available right now, it would barely make a dent in the epidemic.


The study's conclusion? "[F]or at least in the near term, some form of coordinated intervention is imperative. The forecasts for both Liberia and Sierra Leone in the absence of any major effort to contain the epidemic paint a bleak picture of its future progress, which suggests that we are in the opening phase of the epidemic, rather than near its peak."


Oh boy.


Nothing we're currently doing to fight the Ebola virus will work in 2014, say the researchers. Nothing we're currently doing will beat it in 2015, either.


We need a new game-plan.


Here's the researchers' suggestion: Round up all of the infected, and everyone they've come in contact with, and "remove infected individuals from the general population and place them in a setting that can provide both isolation and dedicated care."


Are African healthcare workers in a position to be able to do this? No. Not one bit.


altLet's not forget too that this virus is of a much different breed than its predecessors…


As Dr. Michael Osterholm outlined during our visit at the Johns Hopkins Ebola symposium, there's much more to understand about this particular strain of Ebola.

"Today I've been given permission, something I've known about for a few weeks," he told us during his speech.


"Gary Kobinger and colleagues at Winnipeg, the Canadian national lab, actually took one of the strains from Guinea and put it into macaques [monkeys] a little over a month and a half ago. What they saw was remarkable.


"It was unlike any of the Ebola viruses they've seen in monkeys. It was much much more severe. The pathology in the lungs were remarkable.


And as Gary said, who is one of the most prominent Ebola virologists in the world said, "It is very worrisome to me... what I saw there."


Point? There are too many unknowns.



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