Sometimes the Monsters are Real – Ebola


hot-zone-bk

I have said before that I think the world is a scary place. There’s a lot of bad shit going on right now. The largest EBOLA outbreak in history, happening in West Africa, has caused me some alarm.

Now I first learned about Ebola back in 1994 when I read “The Hot Zone,” written by Richard Preston. This is an incredibly compelling, horrifying read. I started the book one evening after putting my daughter to bed, and stayed up until about 4:00 a.m. to finish it because I literally could not put it down – I found it to be absolutely riveting. This would be some of the best horror/science fiction ever written, except for the fact that it is real. If you haven’t read it, you might want to just to be enlightened (or scared shitless!).

With global travel what it is, and the ways AIDS spread, I have always worried about Ebola and Marburg viruses. Except for a case back in 1989, involving monkeys, I don’t believe Ebola has ever been reported in the U.S. – though I could be wrong about that.

Several U.S. national labs have samples of the Ebola virus and are working to create a vaccination. Yesterday they flew one of two American health care workers who have gotten the virus to Atlanta, Georgia. That hasn’t gone over to well with many Americans. I have pretty mixed feelings about it myself, because quite frankly, IT FREAKS ME OUT!! This is a nasty, and I mean nasty disease and a horrifying way to die. Not trying to be a fear-monger like the mainstream media usually is, all the time freaking people out to go and do – translate BUY – something, but this is some frightening shit.

I do believe they would get better treatment here in the states and I know the hospital in Atlanta has planned and trained for this exact mission, or one similar. (Isn’t that the saying – plan, train, fly?) And I am sure this exposure will provide many opportunities for many things – good and bad. Yeah, I’m a realist. They can study, dissect/DNA map/etc., and try to find a vaccination, maybe even discover something to help cure those who have it. They can also use this experience to intermingle this new strain with the samples they have, I’m assuming. They could do a lot of things with that – lots of research. I’m not a healthcare professional, but I do find all things medical fascinating.

I think the virus has up to a 21-day incubation period. I worry someone is going to expose others, maybe not even anyone working at the Emory University Hospital, but a healthcare worker from that part of the world traveling to other parts. Those in charge seem to think they can contain the virus and prevent the risk of the virus spreading. I hope they are right, because it only takes one unidentified infected person to spread this virus globally, and under the right conditions this is a ticking time bomb – especially in highly and densely populated areas.

I don’t know – there are a lot of worrisome things going on right now. I wonder, has it always been this bad and scary out there and I just wasn’t paying attention, OR is it really worse . . . or both I would imagine . . .

Anyway, what do you think about this Ebola crisis? Have you read the book I mentioned? Does a disease that can, for lack of a better term, liquefy organs and cause one to bleed out from various orifices in their body cause you any alarm? Damn, am I overreacting?

Just something I was thinking about . . .

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26 thoughts on “Sometimes the Monsters are Real – Ebola

  1. This whole Ebola situation is very scary. But the good news, if accurate, is that virus is not highly transmissible. You have to come into very close contact with blood, organs, or bodily fluids of infected people in order to contract it. It’s not airborne, which is a good thing, but then again, AIDS isn’t either, and that spread across the globe fairly rapidly a couple of decades ago.

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  2. Yes, it is worrying. But honestly there were many far more communicable diseases that killed millions in the past. We have beaten all of those. It is far far safer today than it ever has been. However, as you pointed out, the recent (100 years) urbanization and increase in average population density has set up a situation where the right disease communicated the right way with the right incubation time could be disasterous. So, although the risk is low, the effects of an outbreak could be horrendous. Kind of like nuclear reactors: they have an amazing safety record compared to other electric generation types, but when there is an accident the results are terrible.

    Anyway, the average chance of infection continues to drop, so the numbers say you’re safer than ever. if that is any consolation. Humans have a way of judging risk that includes what statisticians call a “utility function”. This function means we give weight to the degree of the effect of the outcome, not just the probabilty of it happening. So, for instance, mathematically there is no point in buying lottery tickets. On average, you will spend more money than you will win. However because the possible outcome is life changing in a positive way, we tend to buy them even though the probability is against us. That’s utility – how would the outcome affect our lives. So, to us Ebola carries a worrisome risk, not because it is likely to happen but rather because the outcome is bascially termination.

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    1. So, Paul, you’re suggesting that I’m as likely to die from Ebola as I am to win a big lottery. I wonder what the odds are of hitting it big in the lottery and contracting the Ebola virus.

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      1. Haha! Feeling particularly special today Doob – both winning the lottery and contacting ebola? Actually, you have a much greater chance (purely mathematically – in reality there are obvious geographical and behavioural factors involved too) of winning the lottery (you made me think and do a few rough calculations). So, for our lottery here in Canada, the chances of winning a million dollars or more is about 1 in a million. Last I looked, there were about 200 ebola deaths in about 7 billion people which is about 1 in 28 million. So from a purely mathematical viewpoint – all other things being equal- you have about 28 times greater chance of winning a million dollars in the lottery than you have of catching ebola. The chance of getting both simultaneously would be 1 per million times 28 per million or 28 chances in a trillion. Good luck!

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        1. So, according to the Powerball website, the odds of winning the big lottery in Powerball are 1 in 175 million.

          According to the latest death toll from the Ebola virus in west Africa is 826. Assuming 7 billion people on earth, the odds of dying from Ebola are 826 in 7 billion, which reduces down to about 1.2 in 10 million, if my math is correct.

          Thus (again, subject to mathematical validation), the odds of getting Ebola are significantly greater than the odds of winning the big Powerball lottery!

          And if I purchase a Powerball lottery ticket and fly to west Africa and get sneezed on by an Ebola infected patient, well, the odds are I could be very rich and very dead.

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          1. Bwahaha! That would be my luck too – get filthy rich the same day I learned I was going to die. The fates can be cruel. The Powerball winnings are much greater than our lottery – 40 mill is Powerball’s minimum – which is why the odds are less. Imagine if you won the powerball and contracted ebola at the same time, you would go down in history forever as the man most likely to beat the odds.

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      2. I had to laugh at this – you 2 (Doob & Paul) had me cracking up 🙂 Made me think of Alanis Morrissette’s “Ironic” – always one of my fav songs 😉
        In my book, the only thing better than my readers leaving comments for me, is when they have discussions amongst themselves! You 2 made my day & warmed my heart ❤

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    2. “So, for instance, mathematically there is no point in buying lottery tickets. On average, you will spend more money than you will win.”

      The only significant change in odds is going from zero tickets to one ticket, where probability changes from zero to some extraordinarily small percentage. Buying more won’t change that hardly at all. So buying one ticket (if you’re into that sort of thing) makes some sense, but buying more is, as they say, just a Stupidity Tax.

      I don’t gamble — at all, even when I visit Vegas, a city I enjoy for other reasons — but I have a cousin who buys one ticket on his birthday. (Okay, full disclosure: When I visit Vegas, I drop one quarter in one slot machine just because,… well, because it’s Vegas and it’s almost a law! 🙂 )

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      1. Haha! You are a man of my own heart Wyrd. I do exactly that – I buy one lottery ticket about once every two months. My logic is that if God wants to make me rich, I want to make it easy for Him. Ha! And I used to truck through Las Vegas and I would put one nickel or one quarter in the one armed bandit and that would be it. I once won 5 nickels in a bathroom (on a machine-get your head out of the gutter) and and walked away 20 cents richer. I figured I’d quit while ahead. I was one of the few who left Las Vegas richer than they arrived.

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      2. We try to buy at least 1 or 2 a week – only because you certainly can’t win if you don’t buy/play at least 1 ticket 😉 Of course, so far, I have not won. I have won over $600 all together over the years – many years {laughing} – I would say “SUCKER” but it’s supposed to help the state’s education fund, so . . . . it’s all good!

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        1. The more interesting question is how much you lost over the years. If you buy two a week, and they’re just a dollar apiece, that’s $104 per year….

          (It’s a shame so many people hate math, because “doing the math” often clarifies the picture and makes one realize what’s really going on.)

          On the other hand, if you view it as a form of entertainment, or if indeed the funds go to some good use you don’t mind supporting, that changes the picture.

          When I worked in Vegas for a summer, I sometimes hit a blackjack table near the lounge act. Over the course of the evening I’d got those “free” drinks and a show, plus the fun of sitting in the casino enjoying the buzz. The money I invariably lost was just the price for the evening.

          (Working in Vegas is pretty much what cured me of gambling. I’d do okay when we practice at home, but at the table my funds just seemed to dwindle. I took it as God’s way of saying to me, “You don’t gamble.” I just finally got the message and agreed. 🙂 )

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    3. Hi Paul – after reading that book years ago, & yes knowing the outcome is almost surely a horrifying death . . . scares the crap out of me. I’m definitely trying to follow the current news on it – though I have had the grandbabies the last 3 days, so haven’t watched much but Disney Channel, PBS & Frozen 🙂 On a happier note, I guess ;-), I have spent a lot more $$ on the lottery than I have probably won, for sure LOL!!

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  3. I read the book when it first came out. Like you in one weekend. I remember the 1989 scare. I was hoping that in the last 20 years we would be a little closer to a vaccine. Since then I would think healthcare facility’s isolation techniques and awareness have improved. And since the possibilities of a nationwide epidemic was brought to the forefront by the book and other events in Africa I would hope we as a nation have a better awareness of public hygiene. Even with that, Ebola scares the hell out of me..

    The MERSA bacteria has almost turned me into a compulsive hand washer. Particularly if I must visit a hospital. Most are much more aware of hand washing compared to 20 years ago. Hopefully all of this would slow down a chance for a mass epidemic of either since EBOLA is spread through bodily fluids and personal contact also.

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    1. Hi DSS – yeah the book is quite a page-turner! I heard today on the news that they do have a secret serum they have been working on that they are using on the American doctor brought home this past weekend. We’ll see if that is helpful in saving the 2 American health workers taken to Emory. Yeah, MRSA and any staff infection kinda freaks me out, too! I wash my hands a lot also & HATE going to a hospital. IF I have to go for any reason, it’s long pants, long sleeve shirts, shoes & socks & lots of hand washing & I try to touch as little as possible. I can be a little bit of a germaphobe at times 😉

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  4. I’ve long ranked “Disease” as one of the main candidates for how we’ll kill ourselves off, but as has been pointed out, Ebola isn’t really sufficiently contagious to be the one that does it. But I used to skydive, so I may not be the one to ask about risk…. :/

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    1. Wyrd Smythe – Definitely a main candidate – though my thought is that what will really wipe us out will be ourselves when the power grid crashes for good. That will cause mass panic & pandemonium & cause a major shutdown of society as we now know it. Then it will be every man/woman for himself/herself & things will get ugly . . .

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      1. Yeah, power grid is another good one. And given the economic and political situation, not one we’re likely to fix any time soon. (Infrastructure collapse, in general, due to our messed up politics and failing economy has long been a worry of mind.)

        There was a movie years ago that involved the Los Angeles area undergoing a long blackout. It was mainly a study of how fast people devolve into primitive and aggressive behavior when “life as they know it” collapses.

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