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OK, I am only going to say this once - but there are some TRULY HORRENDOUSLY IGNORANT comments being made about Ebola and the current scare.
1. This is not Africa. We actually have fully-competent medical professionals in every metroplex, city, small town, and rural community who are trained to recognize illness. The reason Ebola is so deadly in Africa is that so many of the people who are sick get NO MEDICAL CARE!
2. Medical care for a viral infection consists of rest, plenty of fluids and nutrients, treatment for fever, treatment for nausea-vomiting-diarrhea, treatment with anti-viral medications - i.e. medications specifically designed to interfere with viral replication. Given appropriate supportive treatment - the mortality rate of even Ebola goes way down from what it is in Africa - in other words, even country doctors are able to treat it.
3. Most airborne viruses are not lethal. The dozen or so "lethal" viruses all require some form of direct transfer through bodily fluids in order to infect a new patient. The reason for this is that what makes a virus deadly is how fast it multiplies - and what tissue it infects - in a human patient. That *usually* means the lungs, mucus, blood - and that environment is hot (98.6 degrees F), moist (nearly 100% humidity) and full of soft cells. Air is not. Even Atlanta, Houston or Miami in the Summer does not reach those conditions.
4. In order to grow and multiply quickly in those conditions, viruses are adapted to live best in those conditions. That means the virus itself is actually quite fragile. It will not survive on a cool dry surface. Even in sputum (what you cough up) it will die in a few minutes exposure to air, and can be eliminated with alcohol wipes, dilute bleach, Lysol, or even just soap and water.
5. Viruses are not bacteria. The fact that Americans over-use antibiotics and there are resistant strains out there MEANS NOTHING to dealing with viruses. Presence or absence of TRICLOSAN in antibiotic soaps is MEANINGLESS. PUREL(tm) handsanitizer works just fine - it's the alcohol that does the trick.
U.S. Doctors do know how to deal with viral infections - see 1-5 above!
6. Why are these patients going to Emory? Because Emory has a HOSPITAL. CDC and USAMRIID are RESEARCH institutions, not HOSPITALS. Hospitals have very effective infection control mechanisms in place. I run a research lab. I deal with lab animals. When I need to deal with human patients - I do so IN A HOSPITAL!
7. Yes, viruses have a high mutation rate. That is why we need new influenze vaccines each year. BUT! What mutates is the PROTEIN COAT around the viral DNA/RNA. Typically not the genes themselves. Thus, the virus is HIGHLY UNLIKELY to sudden become more lethal just in the course of infecting a few humans!
See, what happens is, a virus "particle" attaches to a cell. As stated above, a virus is genetic material wrapped in a protein capsule. When the proteins attach to a cell, the proteins stay on the outside and the DNA/RNA enters the cell and starts to replicate. The cell is "taken over" to make DNA/RNA copies and build more protein capsules. The viruses are assembled, the cell dies, ruptures and releases more virus. HOWEVER since the original protein coat does not enter the cell and has to be built from scratch by the infected cells, that coating is the most likely to mutate. When that happens, the coat MIGHT be more likely to attach to different types of cells - but more likely, all that happens is that the bodies existing antibodies (and vaccines) won't quite recognize the new coat. This slows down immunity, but doesn't stop it in its tracks.
8. Viruses tend to become LESS LETHAL as they mutate. This is exactly the principle used in producing vaccines - take a virus, grow it in a cellular medium where it can reproduce and mutate to it's own content - then harvest the mutations that have gotten less "virulent" - it's called ATTENUATED VIRUS and is how most vaccines are created simply because THAT IS WHAT VIRUSES DO. A more lethal virus is so unlikely that most research labs artificially create substances rather than let nature run its course.
9. Yes, a change in transmission CAN occur throughout the course of an epidemic - however, what epidemiologists tend to find is that the alternate form was there all along, but not recognized. It's the sort of thing that requires Tens and hundreds of millions of infected to occur. That's why we get things like bird flu and swine flu because the virus developed in a species untreated. Then when they jump to humans - they don't really work that well unless the victims GET NO MEDICAL CARE (see #1&2).
10. For every parent who has had a sick child AND DIDN"T GET SICK or who has had a close family member with any number of viral infections WHO DIDN'T CONTRACT THE DISEASE - keep in mind that it is in fact VERY HARD for viruses to jump from human to human. The sole exceptions are common cold viruses - and only because they are slightly more stable in air - but even then, the transfer is *STILL* from bodily fluid exchange (sputum from sneezes and coughs).
SIMPLE PRECAUTIONS protect any person coming in contact with a person infected with any viruses - wear a mask, avoid contact with bodily fluids, wear latex/nitrile/rubber gloves if you have to handle bodily fluids, disinfect hands and surfaces that may have come into contact with bodily fluids. Extend the "glove" concept to sexual activity and these few precautions are used to effectively prevent viruses from influenze to herpes.
KNOW THE FACTS! and stop perpetuating the rumors and fear-mongering.
[Disclaimer: I am a neuroscientist, not a virologist, immunologist or epidemiologist. However, I was classically trained in physiology and pharmacology - so I had to learn how the physiology of the body reacts to viruses, how the immune system does its job, and how various drugs and pharmaceutical compounds affect those processes. In addition, my training was specifically in conjunction with a Medical School curriculum - I have received a lot of medical and emergency training in the course of my career as well as all of the training required to work and do
research in the hospital environment.