I've been following the Ebola fiasco. It would be a comedy of errors if it were not so deadly serious.
As I understand the story, infected patient Duncan visited a Dallas ER where he was mis-diagnosed and sent home with antibiotics because the hospital's automated workflow process disallowed doctors from seeing nurses' patient notes, including travel details. Apparently face-to-face communication is unlikely between doctors and nurses, even on the most important of patient matters, such as travel to Liberia during an Ebola outbreak.
Who knows how long he sat in the emergency room. Sitting in close proximity to someone with the disease has been found in some circumstances to be enough contact for disease transmission.
Two days later Duncan heads back to the ER in an ambulance after vomiting outside the apartment complex.
During the second visit, he was diagnosed with Ebola and isolated. Its not clear how long he sat in the ER waiting room.
Meanwhile, no health authorities are willing to enter the apartment Duncan was staying in to remove potentially contaminated bedding, increasing the likelihood that Duncan's relatives will contract the disease:
Delay in Dallas Ebola Cleanup as Workers Balk at Task. The New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/03/us/dallas-ebola-case-thomas-duncan-contacts.html?emc=edit_th_20141003&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=32962000&_r=0Anyone who has spent time in a hospital emergency room will not be surprised. ERs are chronically understaffed by well-intentioned (under the best of conditions), but almost always harried health workers. I personally have had all kinds of problems in ERs, including having typhoid diagnosed as "gas" despite me telling the hospital I was diagnosed with typhoid in Indonesia (normalcy bias plus plain old sexism and arrogance). The hospital was in Scottsdale AZ (but it was not Shae north).
[Excerpted] The officials said it had been difficult to find a contractor willing to enter the apartment to clean it and remove bedding and clothes, which they said had been bagged in plastic. They said they now had hired a firm that would do the work soon....
....The delay came amid reports that as many as 100 people could have had contact with the victim, Thomas E. Duncan. And it came a day after the hospital acknowledged it had misdiagnosed him when he first visited....
Handling of the Duncan case reveals gross incapacity to deal with sudden and severe health risks.
It is unlikely that Ebola will spread in the US as in Africa because of important differences in climate, cultural practices, sanitation, and population density.
That said, I am truly concerned about the potential impact of mutating viruses after widespread fallout in the US from the Fukushima disaster.
Data from actual fallout samples indicate that the Fukushima produced a plume of cesium that was two to three MAGNITUDES higher GLOBALLY than the background levels caused by routine emissions, atmospheric testing, Chernobyl, etc:
Masson, et al (2011) Tracking of Airborne Radionuclides from the Damaged Fukushima Dai-Ichi Nuclear Reactors by European Networks. Environ. Sci. Technol, 45 (18), 7670−7677.
I cringe to think how high contamination levels must be in north east Japan and, to a lesser extent, in US and Canada, especially on the west coast through Colorado in areas west of mountains. The mountains trap radionuclides and other particulates, as I've documented in my 2011, 2012, and 2013 analyses of Radnet data. [I no longer look at the charts because I don't trust Radnet to post raw data given their documented tendency to withhold data for beta spikes]
I know from the US Geological Survey data that areas of the US had contamination levels that exceeded the IAEA's standard of contamination.
Viruses, as everyone knows, MUTATE and radiation increases the rate of mutation. I checked with a friend who is a microbiologist and yes, more mutations increases the likelihood of a more virulent variety. This should be obvious but some people contest it, no doubt for political reasons.
What scares me about the Ebola crisis is that the northern hemisphere is radioactively "hot" right now and many people may have reduced immunity because of bio-accumulation of radionuclides, among other toxins, coupled with ongoing atmospheric exposures.
We have already seen in the US unusual viral mutation in the form of Enterovirus 68. The enterovirus has caused severe respiratory distress for children across the US yet scientists don't understand why this usually innocuous virus is creating so much severe illness:
Outbreak of a Respiratory Illness Escalates Among Children and Mystifies Scientists http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/26/health/outbreak-of-a-respiratory-illness-escalates-among-children.html?emc=edit_th_20140926&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=32962000&_r=I recommend that you read a "Question and Answer" session published by The New York Times with Rafal Tokarz of the Center for Infection and Immunity at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University. Dr. Tokarz is an enterovirus expert:
Enterovirus 68: What You Need to Know. (2014, October 2) The New York Times.
Q. Until recently a lot of people had never heard of enterovirus 68. Is this outbreak — or the scope of it — unusual?
A. I think the most surprising aspect of it is how severe it is, particularly the symptoms in kids. Because that hasn’t really been seen before.
Q. What is different about the symptoms seen in this outbreak compared to previous clusters?
A. In most cases it manifests itself as a cold or maybe a mild case of the flu, and it probably got diagnosed as such. I believe in a lot of cases it’s still no different than a severe cold or the flu, even during this outbreak. But in certain individuals the symptoms are more severe, and that hasn’t been seen before....
Q.Why is this outbreak so different than others? Is the virus evolving?
A. Absolutely. It is evolving. A hypothesis of mine is that the strain that’s circulating now probably is a novel variant. It may have mutated into something that’s more easily transmissible and more pathogenic. The virus is mutating, and there are a lot of different variants circulating around the globe....
The virus is mutating and many variants circulate. We are increasing their rate of mutation while we simultaneously undermine our biological and social capacities for responding.
It really is time for a gestalt shift away from our current path or we will not be around much longer.
P.S. Fukushima emissions were quite visible over the last two days, as illustrated by screenshots from yesterday: