There are a lot of things going on in the world these days. I need to catch up on a couple of things that are on my list of interests I like to keep an eye on. After editing, it dawned on me the title of this post might be a bit misleading – I apologize for that – but the NASA piece was short, and I liked the image. So, I’ll start with the cool stuff, and finish with the scary shit.
NASA’s Human Exploration Space Program: NASA awarded Boeing and SpaceX the contracts to provide crew transportation – beginning with trips to the International Space Station targeted for 2017. I pretty much anticipated that they would get these contracts, as their designs were probably the furthest along. It helps that these companies are full of ex-NASA engineers, flight controllers, program managers, and even a few astronauts, as well as contractors in various positions, that left NASA to build something in the way a new generation might. I sure hope we can eliminate our dependence on Russia by 2017. Not sure what else is going to shake out for the future . . . only time will tell at this point. But NASA’s Orion crew module – with Mars and other destinations in mind – is scheduled for its first exploration flight test this December. I’ve got my boarding pass 🙂 (Which is ironic, since I don’t fly!)
Ebola: With the disease continuing to spread and the number of fatalities rising (close to 4500 so far), new cases have have been reported in Spain, and a few cities here. I’m afraid other places will also experience people contracting this virus. The U.S. has experienced its first case of the virus being spread from one person to another. Nina Pham, a nurse who had contact with Thomas Duncan the patient who died in Dallas earlier this month, has been diagnosed. I hope everyone that has come in contact with these patients is being quarantined and monitored. I can’t help but worry that someone has been missed, unnoticed, or unidentified.
Nurses in various cities have held rallies to voice their concern for the lack of preparedness for this infectious disease, though their employers (the hospitals) are saying they are fully prepared to handle these types of diseases. CNN reported nurses from the Texas hospital involved have anonymously complained to their union stating, “guidelines were constantly changing” and “there were no protocols” – the situation described of the handling of Duncan is exactly as I feared.
I read an article a few days back stating several issues that could increase the odds for a pandemic. I can’t remember all the points cited, and I didn’t get to read it all either, but the two that stuck out were if an infected person traveled to India or China, and the possibility for mutation and increased virility. (I have been trying to find that article so I could finish reading it, but haven’t yet.)
Stanford University Dr. David Sanders, who has studied the virus since 2003, commented on a news interview that Ebola can enter the lungs, via the airway side. With continued spreading of the virus, mutations could occur increasing virility, which could result in it becoming airborne. He added that suppressing the outbreak in Africa is key to preventing it from continuing to spread globally. Well, we already know they have not been exactly successful in this endeavor.
Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, the CDC and a host of others are trying to figure out how Mr. Duncan’s nurse became infected. They believe it has to do with the removal of protective wear. Last I heard, they have honed in on the possibility that the nurses necks were exposed in some way. Pham is improving, since having a blood transfusion from one of the recent Ebola survivors.
As a side note, I heard the patient in Spain had a dog that was euthanized. Pham’s dog is in quarantine. I wonder if anything might be learned from this.
Some people feel that travel should be suspended from the affected countries where the outbreak began and is concentrated. Though I can certainly agree with that sentiment, I get the impression, in today’s global village mentality, this is not going to happen. After hearing what Dr. Sanders and others have said, I think those in charge need to re-examine how to proceed further for the best interests of the global community.
When I took a training class on Pandemic Preparedness a few years ago (they were mostly targeting influenza) it was noted that a pandemic would cause major impacts on society due to widespread restrictions on travel, as well as other closings and cancellations affecting schools, large gatherings, and businesses. It was stressed a pandemic could have the “potential for severe impact on domestic and world economy.” Hmm . . . (yes, I have to admit, it was not a subtle hmm!)
What do you think about suspending travel? Do you think they are handling this crisis properly, or in a lackadaisical manner? Do you believe a robust Pandemic Plan is in place nationally in your country or globally?
Just some things I was thinking about . . .