The truth about Ebola
The recent spill over in the US and Europe, far from worst hit areas in West Africa, is enough to make anyone wonder whether authorities are spilling all the truthful beans about the worldâ??s worst Ebola outbreak on record.
Ebola has so far killed more than 4000 people in seven countries since the beginning of the year, but itâ??s not only the speed with which the virus spreads and kills that is terrifying. Itâ??s the gruesome, undignified way it ends some victimsâ?? lives â?? painfully, with uncontrolled vomiting, diarrhoea, and bleeding to death from all orifices, through the skin, from the inside out.
Authorities have done their best (and worst) to contain the epidemic in West Africa, and panic of a pandemic along with it. Theyâ??ve also given mixed messages on how the virus spreads, whoâ??s most at risk, and optimum treatment and prevention. As the virus stretches from Guineaâ??s forests to Madrid and the US, there are signs they arenâ??t telling you the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about the worldâ??s worst Ebola outbreak on record.
Whether any â??untruthsâ? turn out to be from human error (and ignorance) rather than deliberate lies of omission or commission, only time will tell.
I have to confess a mea culpa of my own: a blog I wrote on how best to protect yourself from Ebola infection is limited, and based on World Health Organisation (WHO) and US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) early message that Ebola is contagious, not infectious. In other words, itâ??s not airborne â?? which by definition â??implies inhalation of an infectious dose of virus from a suspended cloud of small dried dropletsâ?.
Not everyone agrees with that. Dr Michael Osterholm, director of the US Centre for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, said in an opinion article â??the risk of airborne Ebola is realâ??, and â??until we consider it, the world will not be prepared to do what is necessary to end the epidemicâ?.
Other experts say while anythingâ??s possible, an airborne Ebola virus is â??highly improbableâ?. The official message remains, says a recent CNN report, that you are most at risk if you come into â??very close contact with the blood, saliva, sweat, faeces, semen, vomit or soiled clothing of an Ebola patientâ? (and tears and breast milk, say others); or if youâ??ve been â??in the hardest hit areas of West Africa, and come into contact with someone who had Ebolaâ?.
Turns out thatâ??s also not the full story. A new WHO bulletin now says the virus could â??theoreticallyâ? spread over a short distance, through indirect contact with surfaces or objects contaminated by â??virus-laden heavy dropletsâ? that are â??directly propelledâ? when a heavily infected person coughs, sneezes or vomits.
The WHO says thatâ??s not the same as saying the virus is airborne. Iâ??d say the virus in aerolised droplets â??hitching a ride on small particles of spit and mucous floating around in the airâ?, as one writer put it, is as near as dammit to airborne, making it about semantics â?? and cold comfort to anyone infected that way.
US virologist Dr CJ Peters, who battled a 1989 outbreak affecting research monkeys in Virginia, and continues to gather research at the University of Texas, has said â??unqualified assurances that Ebola is not spread through the air are misleadingâ?.
American Mike Adams, AKA the â??health rangerâ?, agrees, and says in a recent Natural Newsemailed newsletter, any form of public transport â?? buses, aircraft, ambulances and subways â?? could â??harbour the virus and accelerate the spread of an outbreakâ?. (I donâ??t like his politics â?? Adams is so virulently anti-Obama, youâ??d swear the US president had horns; but he does good work in revealing myths, misinformation and corruption among vested interests in health and healthcare).