Medical conspiracy theories tend to involve “someone” hiding something from the public. I like to refer to this as the fallacy of “secret knowledge.” That “someone” hiding the “secret knowledge” is usually the government, big pharma, or other ill-defined nefarious forces. The “secret knowledge” being hidden comes invariably in one of two flavors. Either “they” are hiding cures for all sorts of diseases that conventional medicine can’t cure, or “they” are hiding evidence of harm due to something in medicine. Although examples of the former are common, such as the “hidden cure for cancer,” it is examples of the latter that seem to be even more common, in particular the myth that vaccines cause autism and all sorts of diseases and conditions, that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are dangerous, or that radiation from cell phones causes cancer. In these latter examples, invariably the motivation is either financial (big pharma profits), ideological (control, although descriptions of how hiding this knowledge results in control are often sketchy at best), or even some seriously out there claims, such as the sometimes invoked story about how mass vaccination programs are about “population control” or even “depopulation.” Either way, “The Truth” needs to be hidden from the population, lest they panic and revolt.
Indeed, in the case of the antivaccine movement, I like to refer to the belief that the CDC is “hiding” the true harms of vaccines (such as that they can cause autism) as the central conspiracy theory of the movement. It’s not surprising, then, that antivaccinationists have tried to claim that vaccines are responsible for the initial Ebola outbreaks in West Africa. These conspiracy theories have profound effects dealing with health emergencies. In particular, the idea that the CDC is “hiding” something can undermine trust and facilitate the spread of misinformation. That’s just what’s been happening over the last couple of weeks, with the quackosphere pouncing on an admission about Ebola that the CDC has allegedly made.
The CDC “admits”…nothing new!
Just a couple of weeks ago, there was an example of just how pernicious these beliefs can be in the middle of an outbreak of a disease as deadly as Ebola. This example came in the form of a news story/meme that popped up first in the fever swamps of conspiracy and quackery sites like NaturalNews.com and then found its way into more “mainstream” outlets. Perhaps the reason that the story gained traction is because it arose as news stories were circulating about a Maine nurse named Kaci Hickox, who had treated Ebola patients in West Africa. When she returned a week and a half ago, arriving first in Newark, she was quarantined in appalling conditions in a tent with no heat, even though she showed no symptoms other than a one-time low grade fever on forehead scanning on arrival, has been completely asymptomatic since, and ultimately tested negative for Ebola. Ultimately, having been accused of playing politics with fear of Ebola (which he clearly was), NJ Governor Chris Christie was forced to relent, and Hickox went home to Maine, where a similar scenario played out, this time with Maine Governor Paul R. LePage, in the heat of a tight re-election race nearing the finish line, equally shamelessly played for politics by pushing for an in-home quarantine for the full 21-day incubation period, even though it was not medically indicated. Meanwhile, the online opprobrium against Hickox, where demands that she be arrested were common, was depressing to behold. Apparently we’ve learned nothing since the Black Plague. At least then there was the excuse that people had little or no idea what caused the plague.
I had to admire Hickox in a way for defying Maine’s governor and ignoring the quarantine order, but on the other hand I was concerned that there is such a thing as being too bold in this case and questioned whether so blatantly flouting the governor by going out in public was particularly wise. I say that not because I thought that her quarantine was medically indicated, but more because I was worried that someone, out of fear of Ebola, would kill her if he saw her out in public. In any case, ultimately, Judge Charles C. LaVerdiere, the chief judge for the Maine District Courts, struck down the quarantine as not being reasonably based in science and instead ordered the much more reasonable and science-based condition that Hickox submit to daily monitoring for symptoms, to coordinate her travel with public health officials, and to notify them immediately if symptoms appear, stating that she “currently does not show symptoms of Ebola and is therefore not infectious.”
Into this background started appearing stories, first in places like NaturalNews.com, then in the New York Post, claiming that the CDC “knew” or “admitted” that Ebola could be spread by air. Part of the conspiracy of “secret knowledge” invariably involves that knowledge being inadvertently revealed somehow, either through an inadvertent admission or some other way. Clearly, the “secret knowledge” here was that, contrary to what scientists have been saying all along that Ebola is spread by contact with infected bodily fluids in much the same way HIV and hepatitis B are, in reality you could catch it just by being in the same room as someone with Ebola. This is the sort of story I’m talking about in the NY POST, "CDC admits droplets from a sneeze could spread Ebola":
Ebola is a lot easier to catch than health officials have admitted — and can be contracted by contact with a doorknob contaminated by a sneeze from an infected person an hour or more before, experts told The Post Tuesday.
“If you are sniffling and sneezing, you produce microorganisms that can get on stuff in a room. If people touch them, they could be” infected, said Dr. Meryl Nass, of the Institute for Public Accuracy in Washington, DC.
Nass pointed to a poster the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention quietly released on its Web site saying the deadly virus can be spread through “droplets.”
“Droplet spread happens when germs traveling inside droplets that are coughed or sneezed from a sick person enter the eyes, nose or mouth of another person,” the poster states.
Nass slammed the contradiction.
“The CDC said it doesn’t spread at all by air, then Friday they came out with this poster,” she said. “They admit that these particles or droplets may land on objects such as doorknobs and that Ebola can be transmitted that way.”
First off, let’s just say that Dr. Nass is not exactly a reliable source. For example, she’s been known to show up on quack websites like Mercola.com spouting antivaccine tropes, to write a letter asking for help to the antivaccine website Vaccination News, and to write a great deal about mass vaccination programs, particularly anthrax vaccines in the military, viewing it as a cause of Gulf War syndrome. Indeed, she has her very own page on that granddaddy of conspiracy sites, Whale.to and did this video for Gary Null:
It’s a video full of conspiracy mongering against the CDC, insinuations that Gardasil is killing girls, and claims that recent litigation “reduced” the ability of victims of vaccine injury to claim compensation. Making a newbie (or antivaccine) mistake, she takes claims made to the Vaccine Adverse Effects Reporting System (VAERS) at face value, even though it’s been described many times why VAERS is not a good measure of the true frequency of adverse events related to vaccines and is heavily influenced by litigation and publicity. Regular readers will recognize the misinformation and tropes, so much so that I had a hard time listening to the entire 15 minutes of the video.
But what about the poster to which Dr. Nass pointed as evidence that the CDC was “admitting” that Ebola could be spread through the air? Clearly, she’s been getting her information from people like Mike Adams and sites like NaturalNews.com, where Adams ran a story on Friday entitled "Schizophrenic CDC pulls document admitting Ebola can spread via sneezes and doorknobs; see the original here":
Just days after admitted it lied about how Ebola spreads and finally admitting the virus can spread through aerosolized particles propelled via sneezing or coughing, the CDC yanked its document off the web.
It replaced it with a new PDF that's almost entirely empty, except for the statement "Fact sheet is being updated and is currently unavailable." You can see that file at this CDC link.
As the editor of Natural News, I anticipated the CDC doing this, so I saved off a copy of the original PDF on Natural News servers, which you can access at the following link: http://www.naturalnews.com/files/infections-...
"Ebola is spread through droplets" - admitted but now scrubbed
As you can see in the original document the CDC has now buried, it admitted "Ebola is spread through droplets," and stated "Droplet spread happens when germs traveling inside droplets that are coughed or sneezed from a sick person enter the eyes, nose, or mouth of another person."
The document also stated "Droplets can contaminate objects like doorknobs" and explained "A person might also get infected by touching a surface or object that has germs on it and then touching their mouth or nose."
This is a classic example of confusing the colloquial definition of a term with the scientific definition of a term, in much the same way creationists think that a scientific theory is just a “hunch” or a “guess” because that’s what most people mean when they say theory. To explain what is really going on here, let’s look at the actual original poster, taken from NaturalNews.com and other websites that have “saved” it to prevent the CDC from going back on what it said (click for full PDF):
Then there’s the changed poster, dated November 1. Adams claims that the CDC link went to an empty document, but in reality the document is there. Perhaps he clicked on it while the document was being revised. Either way, here it is (click for full PDF):
On the surface, this sounds as though Nass and Adams might have a point, that Ebola can be spread by air, but they don’t. Their contention rests on the colloquial idea of what it means to be spread through the air. If someone sneezes a wet sneeze right in someone else’s face, to the average lay person that suggests that the droplets can be spread through the air. However, that’s not what epidemiologists and infectious disease specialists mean when they state that a disease can be spread through the air. Similarly, when they say that disease can be spread through “droplets,” they are not saying that the disease is “airborne” or can be spread through the air. To help explain the difference, I’m going to steal shamelessly from a post by colleague of mine (well, posts actually), Tara Smith, as well as posts to which she’s linked, such as one from Virology Down Under and this one from Pathogen Perspectives. You don’t need to click those links if you don’t want to, but I highly recommend that you do because they are excellent discussions.
To understand where Nass and Adams go wrong, it’s necessary to understand what infectious disease experts mean when they speak of droplets. As Heather Lander explains, bodily secretions that make it into the air from various orifices are called “droplets” and classified based on their size and the distance they can travel. The smaller the droplet, the longer it can stay suspended in the air and the farther it can travel. Not coincidently, the smaller the droplet, the deeper into the respiratory tract it can travel upon inhalation. Now here’s where this is relevant:
Teeny-tiny droplets (less than 5 microns) are generally referred to as "aerosols" and can be generated by a cough, a sneeze, exhaling, talking, vomiting, diarrhea, passing gas etc. Aerosols can also be generated mechanically by things like flushing a toilet, mopping, or rinsing out a bloody wash cloth. When aerosols are infectious, they transmit disease when they are inhaled by an organism and its called "aerosol transmission". When droplets are larger than 10 microns they are called "large-droplets" and if infectious, they transmit disease by inhalation if the organism being infected is close enough to inhale the particles before they settle out of the air. They can also transmit virus if someone gets showered with droplets from, for example, a sneeze, or touching a droplet that is on the surface of an object(fomite) or someone's skin and it's called "large-droplet transmission".
If you want to get more specific, this article will do it for you. Basically, by definition, aerosols are suspensions in the air small enough that they remain airborne for prolonged periods of time because of their low settling density. The article reports that for spherical particles of unit density, settling times for a 3 meter fall are 10 seconds for 100 μm, 4 minutes for 20 μm, 17 minutes for 10 μm, 62 minutes for 5 μm. Particles with a diameter less than 3 μm in essence do not settle. So for a disease to be truly airborne, it has to produce aerosols that hang in the air for a long time, such that prolonged contact (or even any direct contact at all) with the infected individual isn’t necessary for disease transmission. Also affecting this equation is how far these tiny particles can get into the lung. Particles greater than 6 μm tend to be trapped in the upper respiratory tract, while essentially no deposition of particles into the lower respiratory tract occurs for particles greater than 20 μm. To sum it up, a good rule of thumb is that particles in the micron or submicron range will behave as aerosols and particles greater than 10 to 20 μm will settle rapidly, won’t be deposited in the lower respiratory tract, and are called large droplets.
It’s a bit more complicated than that, too:
Whether propelled by sneezing, coughing, talking, splashing, flushing or some other process, aerosols (an over-arching term) include a range of particle sizes. Those droplets larger than 5-10 millionths of a meter (a micron [µm]; about 1/10 the width of a human hair), fall to the ground within seconds or impact on another surface, without evaporating (see Figure). The smaller droplets that remain suspended in the air evaporate very quickly (< 1/10 sec in dry air), leaving behind particles consisting of proteins, salts and other things left after the water is removed, including suspended viruses and bacteria. These leftovers, which may be more like a gel, depending on the humidity, are called droplet nuclei. They can remain airborne for hours and, if unimpeded, travel wherever the wind blows them. Coughs, sneezes and toilet flushes generate both droplets and droplet nuclei. Droplets smaller than 5-10µm almost always dry fast enough to form droplet nuclei without falling to the ground, and it is usual for scientists to refer to these as being in the airborne size range. It is only the droplet nuclei that are capable of riding the air currents through a hospital, shopping centre or office building.
This applies to basically all infectious diseases. Now, here’s where the confusion leading to articles like the NY POST article comes from. When infectious disease experts say that a virus is “airborne,” they have a very specific meaning. What they are saying is that the virus is capable of aerosol transmission via inhalation, even when not in close proximity to the source of the aerosol. In other words, if someone with measles (a very highly infectious virus that can be transmitted through the air), coughs up droplets in a room and then leaves the room and then you enter the room, you can breathe in the measles aerosol and will be very likely to contract measles if you haven’t been vaccinated.
The case is different for Ebola virus. As described and documented here, here, and here, for whatever reason, under as natural conditions, airborne droplet nuclei (the very tiniest droplets, the ones that can stay airborne indefinitely or for long periods of time) containing Ebola are not infectious. Whether it’s because the virus doesn’t like being dried down or primates don’t produce enough virus in saliva and mucus coughed up is not clear, but as described by VDU, there may be some Ebola virus in droplet nuclei – but it has never been shown to cause disease, even when that route has been specifically looked for in the same household as a cause of Ebola. Consequently, although Ebola virus-containing fluids are definitely infectious and can transmit Ebola virus disease, they are not considered airborne. Indeed, if Ebola were airborne, the casualties in this latest outbreak would have been far, far higher than the already high numbers we are seeing.
Now that you know this terminology, you should be able to see that there is nothing “nefarious” in either the first or second CDC poster, nor is there any “admission” that Ebola can be transmitted by air. The CDC has been consistent in stating that Ebola can be transmitted by droplets; it’s just that what is meant by that was not well understood. Perhaps that’s why the CDC decided to update the poster, to try to address the misunderstandings. As Tara Smith points out, it appears that the CDC just did a minor redesign of the poster, making some minor wording changes. The old poster stated that Ebola is not transmitted via the airborne route, and the new poster says the same thing. The original poster states that “if a germ is airborne, direct contact with the infected person is NOT needed for someone else to get sick,” in contrast to droplet transmission, which “happens when germs traveling inside droplets that are coughed or sneezed from a sick person enter the eyes, nose, or mouth of another person. Droplets travel short distances, less than 3 feet (1 meter) from one person to another.” The new poster states, “To get Ebola, you have to directly get body fluids (blood, diarrhea, sweat, vomit, urine, semen, breast milk) from someone who is sick with Ebola in your mouth, nose, eyes or through a break in your skin or through sexual contact.”
To repeat (because it’s so important), in other words, droplet transmission is not the same thing as airborne transmission. Airborne transmission can occur in places where the infected patient has been, even if it were hours ago, while droplet transmission requires being close to the infected patient. Yes, if an Ebola patient projectile vomits on you or bleeds on you, you will have Ebola virus on you that could infect you. Contrary to something like measles, just walking into an area of a building where an Ebola patient has passed through before is not going to result in your catching Ebola. Droplet transmission is still direct contact.
Finally, the NY POST and NaturalNews.com articles conflate droplet transmission with transmission by fomites (objects on which infected fluids wind up). Fomite transmission, however, is not thought to be a major source of Ebola transmission. As Smith puts it, it’s theoretically possible, but the object would have to be “heavily contaminated by a person late in the disease.”
How conspiracy theories harm
I can picture what some of you might be thinking: That’s mighty confusing. Some people would likely be confused even if Mike Adams weren’t spreading misinformation with an eye to selling Pandemic Protection Kits for “natural biopreparedness” and news organizations weren’t treating the story in a sensationalistic fashion. While that’s probably true, think of how much more difficult it is for health authorities to explain these things in a way that lay people understand, given all the medical conspiracy theories out there. For instance, as discussed by yours truly a recent survey/study in JAMA Internal Medicine , 69% of respondents had heard the myth that the CDC and doctors know that vaccines cause autism and other neurological disorders; 20% agree; and 36% are neutral, neither agreeing nor disagreeing. That means two thirds of the population has heard this myth and over half don’t disagree with it. Similar numbers for the myth that the FDA is deliberately preventing people from getting natural cures for cancer and other diseases are 63% heard before; 37% agreeing; and 31% neutral. This means that well over half of the population don’t disagree that the FDA is trying to keep “natural cures” for cancer away from the population.
Is it any surprise that a population with such a high prevalence of belief in ideas that the CDC and FDA are hiding The Truth about vaccines and natural cures from the people and a high level of distrust in health authorities would be far more likely to latch onto the sort of fear mongering that people like Adams and Nass provide? When it comes to trying to explain complex concepts such as the difference between droplet and airborne transmission of disease to people holding such views (or at least being open to such conspiracy theories), is it any wonder that they’re easily confused? Even if the CDC and other health authorities communicated perfectly and didn’t make occasional mistakes along the way (as all humans do), there would likely be confusion. Add belief in conspiracy theories in which the CDC is believed to be hiding something, and those mistakes become magnified—or even spun as evidence supporting the “cover up” postulated by the conspiracy theory. Every inconsistent message is jumped on. Every message containing erroneous information is viewed as undeniable proof of either malice or incompetence.
None of this excuses conspiracy cranks like Mike Adams for spreading misinformation about Ebola in the first place. Indeed, the existence of cranks like Adams cynically spreading misinformation and sensationalistic journalists spreading, well, sensationalism mandate a response. However, even in the absence of cranks, there would likely be some confusion, given that lay people (and even most doctors) are not fully familiar with these definitions. Adams and Nass play on this ignorance to stoke fear, uncertainty, and doubt about the CDC.
Even the bloggers at Virology Down Under admit how hard it is, even under ideal circumstances, to communicate science-based information about Ebola transmission. First, they point out that, although airborne transmission has been engineered to occur in the laboratory using idealized conditions and very high amounts of virus, there is no evidence that it has ever occurred outside of a laboratory. They then discuss “messaging the masses”:
Leaving aside other issues around acquiring a rare disease like Ebola when outside of the current outbreak region, the case definitions and risk assessments have raised confusion. There are questions around how otherwise apparently well-protected healthcare workers in West Africa are acquiring an EBOV. For a virus described as spreading only through direct contact, recommendations for the use of masks, implying airborne spread to many, fuel such questions. In fact, face protection is recommended to prevent infectious droplets landing on vulnerable membranes (mouth and eyes).
It’s important to pass a message that is correct, but also to ensure distrust does not result from a public reading apparently contradictory literature. Such distrust and real concern have been rampant among a hyperactive #ebola social media. Simple, clear phrases like “ebolaviruses cannot be caught from around a corner” (h/t @Epidemino), may help uncomplicate the communication lines. And it works on Twitter.
In another post, virologist Ian MacKay has even solicited ideas for better ways to communicate these concepts to the general public in an accurate, but clear and understandable, fashion:
So the problem is trying to define a name for that other process that can simply and clearly describe infectious disease transmission of viruses & bacteria that are propelled from/by the sick person, across the gap between them and an uninfected person, measurably infecting the recipient. The name should make clear that it is a different process to the one that sees a person get sick by inhaling infectious viruses or bacteria held aloft by the air, in a cloud, made by a previously ill person, that has been hanging around for perhaps an hour or more. That one is an airborne route of transmission.
It is an excellent question. Not being a virologist or infectious disease expert, I’m not sure I have a good answer. I do know, however, that that answer must include language that can be used to counter the pernicious effects of the widespread belief in medical conspiracy theories. Absent such conspiracy theories, it would be hard to imagine why the CDC (or any other governmental authority) would want to hide evidence of airborne transmission, just as it would be hard to imagine any reason why the FDA would want to hide “natural cures” or the CDC hide harmful effects of vaccines and keep vaccinating. With such conspiracy theories as prevalent as they are, the jobs of Mike Adams and those like him are made much easier.
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"Saturn, and our moon likewise, when seen through a magnifying lens, are impressive to the layman in a way which the scientist must instinctively deplore and deprecate. No facts or figures about Saturn, no magnification, can explain the unreasonably disquieting sensation which the sight of this planet produces upon the mind of the spectator. Saturn is a living symbol of gloom, morbidity, disaster, fatality. Its milky-white hue inevitably arouses associations with tripe, dead gray matter, vulnerable organs hidden from sight, loathsome diseases, test-tubes, laboratory specimens, catarrh, rheum, ectoplasm, melancholy shades, morbid phenomena, incuba and succuba war, sterility, anaemia, indecision, defeatism, constipation, anti-toxins, feeble novels, hernia, meningitis, dead-letter laws, red tape, working class conditions, sweat shops, Y.M.C.A.'s, Christian Endeavor meetings, spiritist seances, poets like T. S. Eliot, zealots like Alexander Dowie, healers like Mary Baker Eddy, statesmen like Chamberlain, trivial fatalities like slipping on a banana peel and cracking one's skull, dreaming of better days and getting wedged between two motor trucks, drowning in one's own bath-tub, killing one's best friend accidentally, dying of hiccoughs instead of on the battle field, and so on ad infinitum."
This Week In Ebola (until recently This Week In Virology *kidding*) has been consistently trying to deal with questions to their podcast regarding whether Ebola is airborne. Despite addressing the differences between airborne and droplet spread week after week the question still comes up. It seems like an uphill battle but kudos to the hosts for trying to educate the public.
I think that Ms. Hickox is a hero, not only for volunteering her time to treat Ebola patients in Africa, but for standing up to the nonsense perpetuated by two politicians, who ignored science for political gain, in a very public way and winning.
Also, I would not have worried about someone trying to kill her. That would have created such a mess that it might have spread Ebola!
If it was spread by air, one might expect the infection would be way more widespread by now. As in we're ALL GONNA DIE. But it hasn't and likely won't. even in West Africal
According to a commenter on Aetiology/Tara Smith's blog, the protecting suit coming with Mike's protection kit is only appropriate for “light spills of nonhazardous fluids”.
Anyway, the most important factor in a protection suit is knowing how to get out of it. If you smear yourself with whatever was splattered on the outside of the suit when you remove it, it doesn't matter much anymore if the suit did a good job at protecting you...
If it was spread by air, one might expect the infection would be way more widespread by now. As in we’re ALL GONNA DIE. But it hasn’t and likely won’t.
So far only two people--the two nurses in Dallas--have contracted Ebola in the United States. (I'm not counting the people who were infected in Africa and then returned to the US). That's fewer people, I'm told, than have been married to Kim Kardashian.
While I agree that some politicians have done things in the name of caution that are excessive, slogans like "more people have married Larry King than caught Ebola in the US" may be a formula for excess complacency.
What is the correct level of caution and what actions should governments take for that? What level of trust should we have that people who may be infected will a) immediately recognize when they've become contagious (assuming, heaven forbid, that they do) and b) that they take the appropriate action of immediately getting themselves isolated in an appropriate medical setting?
And more than 3 times fewer people than have been married to Larry King...
In the US, at least, i don't see there's reason not to trust people who beomce infected to recognize symptoms or take appropriate action as it isn't members of the general populace that is at risk. Where we've seen infections occur in the US it's been in health care workers, who have the appropriate training to recognize and respond to infection, who were caring directly for patients with Ebola,..
If they can be trusted to always act in the most appropriate way (for the specific case of isolating themselves and finding appropriate treatment without infecting others), what could you say to a stranger to convince him/her/it of that?
Since the first patient was diagnosed with Ebola ( in Texas yet where Mikey lives), Natural News became rife with nearly-daily articles about the illness and various related conspiracy theories. However, it seems that Mike has been stopping the flow somewhat these past few days by adding stories about tetanus vaccines that sterilise African women and a new 'free speech' social media platform, his own fakebook..
Woo and conspiracy go together like bread and butter** because if your incredibly magnificent, ground-breaking, paradigm-shifting theory did not become the status quo, state-of-the-art, consensus SBM there must be a reason WHY ( other than that it's unrealistic, undocumented crap). It's because of malfeasance and suppression by the powers-that-be who have malevolent ulterior motives.
To support the idea of sculduggery in high places, alt media needs to undermine any confidence its audience may have in authorities and institutions: this is accomplished by 'investigative journalism' that reveals the ancient, rotting planks that form the foundations of our ivory towers and marble temples. Thus governments, universities, professional organisations, professional themselves, corporations and most importantly, the media are the subject of revelations of corruption, crime and dirty dealings.
Remember that followers ingest a daily diet of this cross-referenced tripe. Thus, governments aid the researchers and corporations and the cover-up is broadcast by the media. Only alt media has the Truth.
I always wonder though, if you shouldn't trust the government, professionals, corporations or the media why should you trust someone on the internet who is trying to sell you products ( and himself***)?
** although I suppose that many advocates are probably vegan so butter's out and bread is usually GMO-laden and creates deadly acrilimides so forget it as well.
Therefore: they go together like tofu and kombucha.
*** and it's mostly *himself*, i.e. men, although women are attempting to shatter this glass ceiling as well.
If the pols were truly acting in the public interest, they would impose a Kardashian quarantine. 21 years sounds about right.
As I guess it's up to me to note in every Ebola thread, Rand Paul is pushing the same "the CDC is hiding you can get the incredibly Ebola at a cocktail party" as Adams. Only he has a lot more juice — not the kind you bottle and sell, but actual political power.
Let's face it folks. If you think you are going to change the minds of people who get their medical advice from Mikey and other epi-wannabe snake oil salesman, you are sadly mistaken.
Last night the 60 Minutes TV Show featured a segment "Inside the Hot Zone" about the dedication of the 2,000 American health care workers, who truly are heroes because they set up and staff the mobile hospital units:
My absolute favorite conspiracy meme circulating in the crank blogosphere is that the Kenema diagnostic lab in Sierra Leone is a TOP SECRET CIA/MILITARY BIOWEAPONS PRODUCING LAB!!!!!!
Does this look like a high security military facility?:
So, according to Mikey, my chance of marrying Kim is actually quite high?
I could have sworn I read this article last friday either here or on SBM but I cannot find whatever it was I read on Friday anywhere on either site...was this that article and you updated it without noting that it was republished, or what? Because I definitely remember several specific portions of this article.
So far, no one has died from a Kardashian. Exposure to someone afflicted with Kardashian appears to immunize them without symptoms.
stewartt1982 beat me to the punch. This Week in Virology has spent the last several weeks talking about Ebola virus, including the whole "airborne" question. Some people have asked if it can be spread via an airborne route (despite having previously noted on the show that it cannot). Others have asked if it could evolve to be spread via an airborne route. To steal from the hosts, think about a pig. Given enough time and the right circumstances, a pig could evolve the ability to fly, but then it would no longer be a pig. In the same way, Ebola virus could, with enough time and the right circumstances, evolve the ability to be transmitted via the airborne route, but then it wouldn't be Ebola anymore.
The hosts also noted that no human disease has ever, as far as we know, evolved the change from fluid/droplet transmission to airborne transmission.
It's a great podcast. I'm working on getting caught up on the 300+ episodes.
In the US, at least, i don’t see there’s reason not to trust people who beomce infected to recognize symptoms or take appropriate action as it isn’t members of the general populace that is at risk.
I agree with this statement, but it is evident that many in the general US public do not. Two children from Rwanda were ordered to stay home from their school in New Jersey. A Catholic school teacher in Ohio resigned after she was not allowed back in the classroom after a mission trip to Kenya. The Ebola threat was cited in both cases. Rwanda and Kenya are about 2600 miles and 3000 miles, respectively, from Liberia. For comparison, it's about 2700 miles from Boston to San Francisco. And it's not as if you have multiple daily flights to Monrovia, Freetown, or Conakry from either Nairobi or Kigali.
What I've been doing is pointing out that compared to Ebola measles is far, far, far more infective, since it's transmissable by airborne exposure, and that the Ebola patient who flew in to Dallas spent hours in a closed aircraft cabin surrounded by people with no immunity to Ebola. Conditions don't get much better for spreading an infectious disease, but he did not infect even one of his fellow passengers.
If he'd measles instead, and spent hours in a cabin full of people with no immunity to measles? We'd expect >90% of his fellow passengers to have become infected during the flight.
So if you're confident US hospitals and health care providers can and will safely treat patients with measles, disposing of the medical waste generated safely and taking appropriate measures to prevent those providing treatment from becoming infected and acting as vectors of infection for others, it makes absolutely no sense to question whether they'd do the same with respect to Ebola.
@JGC: Excellent points to bring up with the unknowing public!
I've occasionally swooped down on crank blog comments, most recently related to Ebola, and I've posted similar analogies to yours. Invariably, either the comment is moderated out or I'm lambasted as telling "lies" or labelled as a "Pharma Shill Troll"!
Except for the part where HCWs are expected to have immunity to measles.
Conspiracy mongering goes far beyond the auspices of the CDC, for truly, a global effort is involved, as we know:
- the WHO is complicit
- Mssrs Gates and Murdock recognise no national borders
- AJW was/ is persecuted in both the UK and the US
- Meryl Dorey is being persecuted in AUS
- the internet is international
- Big Pharma is international
HOWEVER for some strange reason, I keep reading all of the choices tidbits in ENGLISH.
I shudder to think who is behind that.
Oh, Denice, I think we know who's behind everything.
But we haven't heard from him in a little while. Probably some lame excuse about the hatchlings moulting, or something.
Tre that they're expected to be vaccinated against mealse, but to my mind falls into the category of behaving appropriately. I think caring for ebloa victims using BL4 conditions and protocols is an appropriate alternative, given we lack an effective Ebola vaccine.
So unless we're talking about NBC news reporters who really, really want to pick up some take-out, I believe we can extend our trust.
If "Ebola" is "real" -- and not a CDC/ WHO fiction -- then where are all the cellphone photos of bleeding Africans?
And I don't mean Google images from 1976
Enquiring minds want to know...
Remember -- By Deception, Thou Shall Make War
OK, here are three scenarios. Help me understand why these are unlikely.
1. On coming back from working in Ebola wards in Africa, the medical person goes back to work. At the start of one day, the person is symptom free. Over the course of the day the person develops a fever and other symptoms which, in the press of work, s/he attributes to being tired, being busy, possibly some bug that's going around, but at the end of the day the person is clearly sick and infectious.
2. The person stays away from work after working the Ebola wards in Africa (or New York). However - 3 weeks vacation! The person goes to the beach. On the trip home, the person develops symptoms and vomits on someone suddenly during a layover in Atlanta.
3. A non-medical person is exposed to Ebola in Africa and comes home. Do we give that person the same latitude we do to a medical worker and, if not, how do we justify that under the equal protection clause?
@bob - Really? That's your touchstone for what's real and what's not, whether someone snapped pictures of sick people with cell phones and whether they look like they have Ebola to you?
Perhaps you'd like to investigate the actual symptomatology, jackass.
Re the "persecution" of Meryl Dorey (one-time dim bulb leader of the (former) Australian (Anti-) Vaccination Network: expect even more conspiracies to be generated against this brave woman, now that she's identified Ebola as a side effect of vaccines:
MO'B@27: Your scenario #1 is approximately what happened in the case of the guy who became infected in Liberia and travelled to Dallas. He got sick and went to the emergency room, where apparently the person(s) who treated him didn't recognize the significance of his travel history and sent him home. This is the guy who went on to infect the two nurses who were caring for him.
Note, however, that he didn't infect anybody else: not his family, not his neighbors, nor anyone else who was actually treating him. That shows how hard it is to pass Ebola from one human to another, at least in countries like the US with generally good sanitation. (Sub-Saharan Africa is a different story; most of those countries can't afford BSL4 facilities, and local traditions about handling the bodies of deceased relatives make it easier for the deceased's relatives to contract Ebola.) Of course, we have been lucky so far, in that nobody has carried Ebola into countries like India and China--their facilities, while better than what you typically find in Africa, aren't quite up to Western standards, and population densities are high enough that Ebola is more likely to spread.
In a country where only 1.3% of the population has access to the internet? Some people haven't the faintest clue what life is like in developing countries.
While our host is, of course, correct, his statement is unnecessarily restricted.
The field of science is not the only place words can be confused. In any discipline that develops terms to describe specific concepts, those terms can, and will, be misused when spoken about by this who haven't studied that discipline. Law, construction, entertainment, photography, and about 10,000 other fields have had their language used by the general population in ways that aren't quite correct. It's no doubt a fundamental feature of the human condition. As stewartt1982 notes in comment #2 -
Helianthus said at #5 -
I've never worked in the medical field, but yeah…
Back in my military days, the thought was that the Soviets war plan was to nuke us, then fly over dumping chemical weapons. To keep us safe (or at least alive long enough to do our jobs), I was able to spend a bit of time at Chemical, Biological, and Radiological Warfare School. 4 weeks of scary photos, neat toys and hazardous materials - what's not to like?
As part of the class, we had to dress up in our full kit, then we were sprinkled with a little UV liquid (to simulate nerve gas) and powder (to simulate radioactive fallout). We then spent the best part of the day going about various tasks. After undergoing decontamination, we undressed and went into the black light tent. Not everybody would have survived.
Speaking only for myself, I'd rather deal with nerve gas. It will kill you just as dead and just as ugly as ebola. The good thing is that it doesn't take near as long.
Re: how to communicate what it takes to transmit Ebola v.
I think Sadmar got it right. Some short phrase involving direct contact of bodily fluids.
I would write it as something like, "Somebody with an active Ebola infection would have to sneeze right in your face so that you felt the drops." You could edit that line down to even fewer words if you liked.
As to the way that some charlatans misconstrue official pronouncements such as CDC posters: They are obviously looking for some little piece of wording that can be twisted and tortured. It's very similar to the way that Fox News and its allies look for some little thing that Obama did or didn't do, and then blow it hugely out of proportion. Obama failed to hand off his coffee cup while exiting from a helicopter, so that becomes disrespect for the U.S. Marine Corps according to the righties. The CDC fails to write a book length posting on how germs are or are not transmitted through the air, and it becomes a similar overreaction. They work at this kind of misrepresentation, and there is always going to be something they can misrepresent.
I think that the best way to communicate how Ebola is spread would be to focus on the fact that MEDICAL personnel at most at risk and WHY that is so.
Mobile broadband largely supplants home Internet access. Liberian cell phone penetration was estimated in 2013 to be 42%.
You just have to inject the atropine into your heart:
I agree with a lot of what you say, but it should be noted that despite the CDC claiming to be in control (reminded me of Alexander Haig), they were not prepared. The information on their website regarding personal protection gear for healthcare works was as wrong as wrong can be. 2 nurses who adhered to those guidelines were infected with Ebola. Then they changed it. The CDC was totally unprepared, which is ridiculous given they have had years to get ready for the inevitable cases of Ebola in the US. Why didn't they consult with Doctors Without Borders, whose guidelines have proved successful?
I remain skeptical...
The question remains -- if "ebola" is "real" -- and not a CDC / WHO fiction -- where are the cellphone pictures of bleeding Africans?
The readers here are obviously oblivious to cell phone usage in Africa...
African mobile penetration hits 80% (and is growing faster than anywhere else)
We tend to have certain paradigms about the “developed world” and the “developing world.” Including, of course, media-fed images of Africa as a place of almost irredeemable poverty, deprivation, and pain.
Many of our paradigms are, of course, illusions.
A new report on the African telecommunications market highlights that mobile penetration in Africa hit 80 percent in the first quarter of this year and is still growing at 4.2 percent annually. That’s faster than anywhere else in the world, the report says, and Africa is, after Asia, the world’s second-largest market.
Which means that today, more than eight in 10 Africans have a mobile phone.
In part, that’s driven by a massive reduction in the costs of owning a mobile phone: The average revenue per user for telecom companies has dropped 80 percent between 2001 and 2011. Economies of scale have taken hold now as the basic infrastructure has been built out, and more competition by independent (not state-owned) telecoms has driven down prices.
That’s good for Africans, of course, and good for the market in the long term as well. And there’s still a lot of room to grow.
Most mobile connections — 62.7 percent, or almost two thirds — are basic 2G voice and SMS services, the report says. Of the remaining third, about 27 percent have access to 2.5G for low-speed data, and just 11 percent have 3G access — never mind LTE.
As more and more infrastructure is built, however, data services and connection speeds are increasing. Data revenue for telecoms has grown 67 percent in the key African countries of South Africa, Kenya, and Nigeria in the past few years. And while smartphones are cost-prohibitive for some, current penetration is at 20 percent and is projected to grow fast — by almost 600 percent in Nigeria alone by 2017.
The question again is -- where are the cellphone photos by Africans of bleeding-to-death-by-Ebola Africans?
Not even selfies?
@bob - sorry Bob, they are too busy dying to take selfies you sick fuck.
It is gratifying to have Bob here, demonstrating Orac's point -- i.e. that expecting numpties and nimrods not to build elaborate conspiracies around every news headline is like expecting an ADD dog not to chase after squirrels.
Not even selfies?
The thought of some dude -- moridbund in some clinic, dying of Ebola -- summoning up the last reserves of his strength to put up a selfie on FB is worthy of a comedy routine.
Yeah, and if some dude did that, there would be a coupla other dudes that would 'Like' the post.
Comment in moderation - what idiot takes a "selfie" while dying of Ebola?
I haven't seen cell-phone selfies of people while theypre being shot and dying of gunshot wounds either--I guess that proves it never happens?
I'm surprised Orac did not stumble upon the real reason for the Ebola outbreak.
I have it on good authority that it was engineered so that the President would send troops to west Africa and then quarantine them just before the elections, to prevent them from voting.
(I'm not kidding. Oy).
You won't see many pics of that, because bleeding out is not a very common way that Ebola virus kills. More often, your immune reaction is what kills you. Put simply your body goes into septic shock. Bleeding out of everything grabs attention, but it isn't actually all that common.
This is likely in the context of simple human error. Most likely, the medical person, having knowledge of Ebola (one would assume, after working in the outbreak area) would not write it off as some other illness, but would consider the possibility that it is connected with their work in the outbreak region.
I don't think the symptoms progress to vomiting that quickly. Fever and malaise appear first. According to CDC, vomiting and other GI issues roughly 5 days after the non-specific symptoms appear. They probably won't be feeling like heading to the beach or traveling much due to the fever, chills, aches, etc.
I would think that all people, whether a medical professional or not, should be treated the same. Depending on their travel history and symptoms (or lack thereof), they should be asked to monitor themselves or be monitored (temp checked twice a day) until the observation period is over. But, barring symptoms, they ought to be free to move about.
That was access to a cell phone, which might be one cell phone per village.
Wikipedia states that only 3.8% of Liberians are Internet users, defined as, "persons using the Internet in the last 12 months from any device, including mobile phones". The 1.3% figure I quoted was for Sierra Leone.
Yes, lots of people have cell phones in Africa, especially in places like Liberia that have limited or no land lines (the network was largely destroyed in the civil war). That doesn't mean they have camera phones, or if they do that they have any interest in taking photos, or that they have access to the internet to upload the photos once they have taken them.
To add to my previous comments, figures for cell phone subscriptions can be very misleading as many Africans have multiple SIM cards for various reasons. Looking at average figures for the whole of Africa, which includes large cities in Nigeria, Egypt and South Africa, and extrapolating to places like Liberia and Sierra Leone is also misleading.
OK "not even selfies"
was a joke that all you pro-vaxxers didn't get
if someone was bleeding to death from"EBOLA"
(cue up the Ricola commercial)
wouldn't you take a picture and send it to the world to show how serious it really was?
EBOLA remains a CDC/ WHO global psyop
see ya later suckers!
Only a rabid anti-vaxxer would make jokes like that....so thanks for proving our opinion of the movement to be correct (i.e. whistling past a graveyard).
As to the pictures you seek, about 2 secs on Google & I was able to find numerous photos from the hot zone....what, your Google skills have failed you? Obviously you didn't try very hard.
Good to see racism and "I'm alright Jack"-ism is alive and well at AoA;
Never mind the fact that there are thousands dying in Africa - oh no. Our made-up pseudo-medical-nonsense gravy train is far more important than all those nasty black foreigners dropping like flies...
Hateful, hateful people.
@Lawrence - but were they taken with cell phones and did they show people bleeding from various orifices? That's what it will take to convince bob. Pictures taken by news photographers with real cameras showing people in body bags and grieving family members just don't count in today's Instagram/Twitter/Snapchat world.
Perhaps it just isn't funny. But please do your Kenny Delmar impression for us.
@ Rebecca FIsher:
Right, 'gravy train' is correct although I wonder how much of it is actual money ( except for a select few like Andy and ASD crappy practitioners ) but the opportunities for self-aggrandisation and adulation of followers are worth the monetary loss/ lack of profit.
Presently quite a few of them @ AoA have new books ( mostly published by Skyhorse) - I wonder if anyone will make a profit?
You might 'enjoy' recent posts by Kent Heckenlively who is hawking his new book, Plague. Not the real plague, but CFS. Andy says CFS is ASD in adults. Or suchlike.
Maybe your priorities are different to mine, but if someone close to me was dying horribly, taking a photo and posting it online wouldn't be my first reaction, even if I did have a camera and internet access. Anyway, I don't suppose it has even occurred to people in west Africa that some in the developed world are idiotic enough to believe Ebola is a hoax.
Just for you:
satan i mean mephistopheles writes
"but were they taken with cell phones and did they show people bleeding from various orifices? That’s what it will take to convince bob. Pictures taken by news photographers with real cameras showing people in body bags and grieving family members just don’t count in today’s Instagram/Twitter/Snapchat world."
Dude -- "news photographers with real cameras?"
Where's the blood?
Have you seen one picture with actual bleeding?
The verdict is still
CDC/ WHO HOAX
Remember the bird flu and swine flu hoaxes from the recent past? They did it before and they're doing it again...
@Bob - you really aren't up on the actual symptoms of Ebola are you?
Nausea and vomiting.
Diarrhea (may be bloody)
Chest pain and cough.
Severe weight loss.
Bleeding, usually from the eyes, and bruising (people near death may bleed from other orifices, such as ears, nose and rectum)
Unless the person is very near death, the actual "bleeding" is mostly internal - so how exactly do you expect to get internal photographs of these people's bodies?
Seriously dude, you're completely deluded.
Aside from your massive conspiracy theory and overt racism, considering in Africa that the dying process is usually within the family, what family member would want a camera pointed at their loved one as they were dying?
Are you serious, or are you just one of those people who want to see others suffer?
bob I mean bob writes "Where’s the blood?"
I respond: in your eyes, bob.
I see that flounce didn't last long.
The correct quote would be "So long, suckers!" - Jimmy Bond, Casino Royale
As has been pointed out to you numerous times already, bleeding out of various orifices is not a particularly common symptom. Thanks for playing, but you really ought to stop while you're still at the starting line.
More precisely, as I understand it, a poorly timed immune response predicts lethality. Prompt responses are associated with survival; if the virus succeeds in delaying these (something it has multiple tactics for achieving), the delayed inflammatory response is all over the map.
Thanks; it appears that I failed to look closely enough.
Hey boob (not a typo):
Do a Google or Bing image search for ebola hemorrhagic fever and look at what you get. There are multiple pictures of cutaneous hemorrhagic lesions as well as pictures of patients bleeding into the eyes and from the mouth and nose.
After you do that, you are cordially invited to take a hike.
He'd probably just write those off as photos from 28 Days Later.
Ebola, just another virus on steroids. All virus are easily prevented and cured. One to 20 grams vitamin ‘C’ depending on age and health to prevent. Cure depends on the stage of disease. Infection, Six to a 100 grams estimated, Scurvy stage, Continues IV as fast as it can be run in until Cured.
Scurvy has been Prevented and cured for over 200 years with vitamin ‘C’ in any form. Virus them seldom result in death. It s the destruction of the bodies defensives (immune system) and one of 100's hundreds of illnesses that infect man, including old age, leads to death. example; hepatitis is cured at any stage. Another, sadly, is SIDS.
I do not expect this to be Published, but maybe it and save a life. I have written manny
Hopefully you only put "manny" on the envelope as well, since manny would be far better served by the absence of whatever you wrote.
I'd really like to have the Internet equivalent of a big "Citation Needed" stamp to mark up "dez's" brain droppings.
@…dez... - I, personally, would be perfectly happy if vitamin C were shown to prevent or cure all virus infections. Can you please point to a good study that proves that this is so?
By the way, you write "Scurvy has been Prevented and cured for over 200 years with vitamin ‘C’ in any form. Virus them seldom result in death." Did you mean to suggest that scurvy is a viral infection? If not, what does scurvy have to do with using vitamin C to cure or prevent viral infections?
I know this is accepted as Holy Writ in some quarters, but do you have any evidence at all that any viral illness can be cured by giving IV vitamin C, other than the anecdotal claims of Dr Klenner? Any animal studies? Case studies of hepatitis or C "cured at any stage"? HIV positive patients rendered HIV negative?
What do you make of this study in which Sabin attempted to treat monkeys with polio using large doses of vitamin C, with no success at all? He even tried using both natural and synthetic vitamin C and used monkeys who were vitamin C deficient and those who were replete, but it made no difference.
Tell you what, des: load up on whatever amount of vitamin C you think is sufficeint to prevent "all virus", drink an 8 oucne glass of water contaminated with norovirus, and see how well that works for you.
I recommend you take a few days off from work and hang out near your bathroom when you do this, though.
I've got to vote Ms Hickox for hero as well.
In a Rosa Parks moment, she stood up and called BS on this political fear mongering. She could have quietly sucked it up and waited, instead she made a stand for rationality over ignorance.
Woo - Christina England has really gone off the deep end this time. Airborne Ebola is apparently a global depopulation plan.
@Rebecca - no sane person could have written that. Ms. England must be certifiably insane at this point.
Some heads up at ebola concerns in the Philippines. Filipino peacekeepers went home from Liberia and were quarantined as a precaution in an island. Apparently, the acting Health Secretary and the Army Chief breached quarantine procedures and went there without PPEs in what can only be viewed as a publicity stunt. To make matters worse, the top government defended them from criticisms. http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/651461/palace-defends-garin-catapang-visit…