Perhaps, if we all survive the many threats to our modern survival as a species, we will eventually have predictive models that use the momentum of words written all over the world to somewhat know the future and act accordingly. Until then, we are left with the wise words of any great combatant that ever lived,”Always overestimate your opponent.”
Before going any further in this article, I want to personally note that Thomas Eric Duncan could turn out to be the most horrible man in the history of the world through total neglect of his potential impact on humanity. If Ebola breaks out in the United States and is unchecked for many months there could be global economic disaster. He was unwilling to sacrifice his investment in an airline ticket to see his relatives in Texas while being willing to spread what he had seen first hand as the worst virus we have faced since the dark ages.
How do we sift through the mountains of information and come to some conclusion that allows us as a population to act appropriately? First, we have acted too late, sitting in the twin towers because others were sitting in the twin towers, unwilling to raise the alarm. We start by overestimating our opponent, Ebola.
“The virus behind this outbreak made the jump to humans late last year, in Guinea. The key event in the spread to Sierra Leone was the funeral of a faith healer who claimed to be able to cure Ebola patients. When she contracted Ebola and died in late May, a large number of people attended her funeral.
Twelve of the first Ebola cases in Sierra Leone all attended that funeral, and appear to have contracted the virus there. These include two distinct forms of the virus which diverged, in Guinea, in late April.” – Rob Brooks (2 September 2014, 3.21am BST)
How does one go about overestimating an opponent? We start by analyzing their strengths and our weaknesses.
Ebola’s four greatest strengths are:
- It can appear like any other virus in the beginning with aches and a runny nose
- It has a 7 to 21 day gestation period
- It is a new strain of Ebola, mutating rapidly, in a highly diverse DNA portfolio
- It is lethal in at least 40% of all cases
Our greatest weaknesses are:
- Less than timely action
- Fear of loss based reactions, i.e. loss of money, loss of power, loss of credibility
- Protocol based behavior, i.e. we do what we have always done
How to mitigate the strengths of our opponent?
It can appear like any other virus in the beginning with aches and a runny nose
The result of this will be many false positives, people believing they have Ebola when they do not. The consequence of this in conjunction with our protocol based behavior is that we will flock to Hospitals, ERs, and Day Clinics and sit in rooms waiting to be told if we have Ebola. Some of the people in the room will have Ebola setting up a quarantine situation that is untenable. Where will we house all these people in quarantine?
We should set up community clinics outside in wide open spaces with tables spread far apart with medical personnel dressed appropriately to avoid both airborne and fluid contact. If chairs are used for the waiting patients they should be set very far apart and signs should be posted asking them to avoid contact with others. If there are ketones specific to patients with Ebola sensors should be manufactured that can provide a first data check on whether to test blood samples. The new blood test system that Elizabeth Holmes invented should be used in all cases to avoid transport and possible testing issues.
It has a 7 to 21 day gestation period
Because the greatest risk to our communities is based on rapid transportation’s ability to move the virus throughout the country in days rather than years it is important to quarantine cities after a very small number of infected individuals have been found in a city. This means no travel out of the city for 21 days after identification has occurred.
It is a new strain of Ebola, mutating rapidly, in a highly diverse DNA portfolio
We must assume the the virus can become airborne whether it currently is or not. All of us acting with a respect for personal space and making sure neither our air, spit, or body liquids touch others is a good policy during this time. Advising that the virus is not airborne is a huge mistake.
It is lethal in at least 40% of all cases
A 40% death rate is very conservative. In fact, it has attained a 90% death rate when conditions favor the virus. What are those conditions?
- Religious ceremonies conducted taking a priority over safety
- The cleanliness of the environment
- The respect given to the potential of infecting others
How do we address our weaknesses?
Before you believe you have this fight won, prepare for the fight and believe it is lost unless you have your best fight ever. If you think you have Ebola, immediately get checked and avoid contact with others. Act immediately as an individual, as a community, as a nation to be safe. Fear of the loss of our culture should take precedence over money, time, and power. Be safe.