Questions from comments to yesterday's post.
Q.: Have the "authorities" identified the host species (other than humans and I use humans loosely here) yet?
A.: We have no wild idea where or from what species Ebola originally sprung, or how it spreads, other than people once there's an outbreak.
It has been found in rats, bats, monkeys, baboons, and various field hamsters and such, but generally as benign in those species.
We suspect bats improperly prepared as a possible source of the outbreaks, but there's zero empirical evidence of this.
So getting rid of it forever would probably require killing everything in Africa. NTTAWWT.
Humans are a target species, not so much the host species.
We do have the capacity to spread the disease once it's acquired, and thus far, every "survivor" of the disease tests positive for the disease as far out as we've re-checked, AFAIK.
IOW, it never goes away, and re-infection and subsequent outbreaks may be spawned by "survivors" from prior outbreaks.
Cheery thought, huh?
Q.: While total cases have increased the percentage of deaths per total cases have remained the same. What can we make of that?
A.: A couple of things.
1) WHO and Wikipedia can't do math.
The dead are not percentage of dead now vs. total current cases.
because the disease incubates for 2-40+ days, and takes about 21 days, on average, from acquisition to mortality.
If you take the number of cases from 21 days ago, and number of deaths now, you'll get the actual mortality percentage of this disease.
Doing it the way WHO/Wikipedia does makes it look less lethal.
Why do they do this, knowing it's wrong?
2) WHO and Wikipedia are trying to stem panic and put lipstick on the pig.
3) The disease kills a pretty static percentage, between the high sixties and low eighties.*
Roughly, 8 out of 10 people who get it will die outright, and the 2 out of 10 who don't will almost always be lifelong victims of Ebola Virus Syndrome, with blindness and other problems being a virtual certainty over time. And they'll be contagious carriers pretty much for life (blood, semen, breast milk, vaginal secretions, etc.). Good times.
In short, surviving it is only slightly better than dying from it.
*(Bear well in mind this is among Africans, with medieval sanitation, room temperature IQs, lousy health and health care - if any at all, and abysmal nutrition, already debilitated with malnutrition, malaria, dengue fever, parasitic and fungal infections, TB, and about 100 other problems last seen as widespread in the West prior to 1850 A.D., i.e prior to vaccinations, germ theory, and Florence Nightingale levels of basic sanitation.To find a representative population here like that, you'd have to sample the homeless. Now, imagine Ebola gets here, and gets to the homeless population...
Welcome to Zimbabwe/Ebolaville U.S.A.)
Q.: What role can the experimental vaccine play in these proceedings?
A.: By all accounts, Merck's invention, rVSV-ZEBOV, has shown a 97.5% effectiveness in this outbreak, i.e. nearly no one who's been vaccinated with it has subsequently gotten Ebola during this outbreak. To date, over 100,000 people in DRC have been vaccinated.
That, and that alone, is the reason this outbreak stands at 1600+ cases, and nearly 1000 deaths, rather than 10-20 times those numbers by this point in time.
Stockpiles will eventually be exhausted, as stupidity in DRC is outpacing ability to produce enough vaccine to contain the spread.
I have no idea what Merck's lead-time is for vaccine, nor how much they could produce and distribute, should Ebola arrive (or when it actually does) in the West (London, Paris, NYFC, etc.).
I suspect that answer would (and will) lead to riots, once it's no longer merely an academic inquiry.
Creating your own defensible Ebola-free quarantine space, OTOH, will be 100% effective.
Concertina wire should be on your shopping list.
And possibly a small supply of wine bottles full of high-octane for emergency field decontamination operations.
Q.: If it's so communicable, how did the dipshit NYC doctor not infect the entire bowling alley he went to? How did Bellevue [not] have any additional cases? Seems like we shouldn't have been able to dodge this one and the one in Dallas.
A.: The dipshit doctor was asymptomatic when he went on walkabout, and it was only after he developed symptoms that he had any virus to shed and spread. He was immediately placed in full hazmat isolation for his entire stay, very nearly died, and needed 30 doctors and 100 nurses caring for him around the clock to survive. We can't do that for very many people. And we won't.
When they tried the same thing in Dallas, using the strictest CDC protocols in their ICU, Ebola there achieved the exact same r-naught as the virus in the wild in Africa, with zero protection: it exactly doubled in 21 days.
That's pretty effing contagious, and we didn't dodge anything.
Both those nurses will carry the virus for life, as will the NYFC doctor, and they can look forward to the expected sequellae of Ebola Virus Syndrome, including blindness, and being a host reservoir for the virus indefinitely.
Q.: Is the Ebola Virus effected by subfreezing temps?
A.: Yes. It gets frozen in place, and then when things thaw, there it is, right where you left it.
From the MSDS Online relevant section:
SURVIVAL OUTSIDE HOST: The virus can survive in liquid or dried material for a number of days. Infectivity is found to be stable at room temperature or at 4°C for several days, and indefinitely stable at -70°C.IOW, sub-freezing just preserves it until it thaws. Forever.
At anything above 39° F, it's still fully infectious. And it thrives at the equator.
You want to make it go away, you want fire.
Two other cheery thoughts from the MSDS on EVD: 1-10 organisms will infect. That's one virus.
Vectors: unknown. Not a clue.
I hope that answers the questions regarding this outbreak adequately.
Short of this thing escaping containment, I'm unlikely to look at it further this side of June.
If you've got further questions, ask it in comments to this post.
Even if I've posted the answer 50 times before, I'll probably cover the ground again.
And remember, just like my drill instructor said,
"There are NO stupid questions, there are only stupid people."