Ebola – The Tragic Comedy of Prescience (Part 7)

“The CDC is asking all 132 passengers on Frontier Airlines flight 1143 from Cleveland to Dallas/Fort Worth on October 13 to call 1 800-CDC-INFO (1 800-232-4636). The CDC says the risk of infection is low, but that the agency still wants to interview all of the passengers.” – Healthline News, Written by Sandra Levy | Published on October 15, 2014

“Hey listen, there is almost no chance of you getting Ebola or infecting someone else, we say that because it has never happened before, well, except in one instance just prior to this, but if you have a couple of minutes, you know, you’re not do anything, and you want to chat, why not call us at the CDC?”

I have assigned 132 people the task of tracking down and isolating 132 passengers from the Frontier Airlines flight 1143 from Cleveland to Dallas/Fort Worth on October 13.  All 132 people tracking down the passengers and the passengers themselves will be isolated in separate locations purchased by us in the town they are located in.  All people they have come in contact with will be tracked down and isolated as well.  There will be no physical contact with these individuals from the outside world for 21 days except using technological communication.  We will compensate all parties financially and provide facilities so that all involved individuals can carry on their work remotely if possible.  Each physical location will be guarded around the clock.  Every effort will be made to make the facilities pleasant to live in and not a prison.

The reaction of those involved in securing our future and protecting us is abhorrent.  Demand better.


Ebola – Weep Tears Now for Your Culture Lost (Part 6)

Weep Tears Now for Your Culture Lost

Shed your tears now
Cry for the clean water you drink
Cry for the light at night
Cry for the safety in our streets
Cry for the roads you drive on
Cry for the family alive that you love
Cry for the friends you cherish
Cry for the society you have shared

Soon, too soon, all your tears will be shed
Your water will be soiled
Your light will be gone
Your safety will be lost
Your roads will be shattered
Your family will be smaller
Your friends will expire
Your society will not endure

Perhaps we can still save ourselves.  To do so we must elect new leaders who understand prioritization, who are not the puppets of power, but leaders through prescience and compassion.  We need leaders who are not the victors of the downtrodden, but the heroes of our future.  Men and women who look past what other’s want to hear to what we cannot afford to hear.  We cannot afford to hear that Ebola is airborne.  We cannot afford to hear that borders are open.  We cannot afford to hear that our healthcare system, weakened and riddled by the prosperity of assured payments and specialized medicine is prepared and capable of handling Ebola.  Our healthcare system is woefully inadequate.  Is our healthcare system in your home?  Is it at your work place?  Is it sitting on the park bench?  Are their members brothers and sisters of the massive homeless population, the auger of Ebola.  Who will protect us from those who don’t know, don’t care, and won’t act?

We have one hope and one hope only, that you, the populace recognizes the danger and acts accordingly.

I, who do not believe in God, pray that you do.

Ebola – Should Have Kept Those Damn Gloves On(Part 5)

Mass Murderer?

Mass Murderer?

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:

  1. It can appear like any other virus in the beginning with aches and a runny nose
  2. It has a 7 to 21 day gestation period
  3. It is a new strain of Ebola, mutating rapidly, in a highly diverse DNA portfolio
  4. It is lethal in at least 40% of all cases

Our greatest weaknesses are:

  1. Arrogance
  2. Less than timely action
  3. Fear of loss based reactions, i.e. loss of money, loss of power, loss of credibility
  4. 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?

  1. Religious ceremonies conducted taking a priority over safety
  2. The cleanliness of the environment
  3. 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.

Ebola – The Gloves are Off (Part 4)

It has been 45 days since I last wrote on Ebola.  We who write understand that for most of us our voices are mere bubbles in the vast river of conversation that flows around our planet.  We hope, if our analysis is correct, that others with more influence communicate a similar message.

Here is a chart of the number of searches, equatable to global interest, for ebola in the last three months.

Last three months of global searches for ebola

Last three months of global searches for ebola

This chart is screaming, “Interest in Ebola is dying out just when the contagion is getting it’s stride.”  Ebola is, for us, an event of interest like the war on ISIS.  It does not, right now, immediately effect us.  We are immune to the disasters that plague Africa.  Ebola is not a local War or even a well funded war that effects the global price of oil.  It is a contagion without an effective counter measure.  The only counter measure we have found in the past to be effective, isolation of the contaminated, is failing us.

It is well known that we as a species underestimate the future potential of a true disaster and overestimate our ability to deal with it. 

I applaud the media for elevating the true potential of the disaster that awaits mankind if we are not effective in our war against Ebola, right now.   The medias efforts are waning.  This is the second egregious mistake with respect to this outbreak of Ebola we as a civilization have made.  The first egregious mistake was underestimating the potential impact of Ebola on the world’s population and consequently not shutting down all traffic in and out of areas with the contagion.  The second egregious mistake is not utilizing global media to elevate awareness and as such reaction to the contagion.

Here is the trend data from google for hot searches in the last two days.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

  1.  Rob Bironas

Saturday, September 20, 2014

  1. Jameis Winston
  2. Gabrielle Union
  3. The Fappening
  4. Polly Bergen
  5. Alabama Football
  6. Mr Olympia 2014

An analogy for the search behavior on the internet reflecting global interest and concern is:

A man is walking across the street with a friend reading a People magazine.  He looks up to see a semi-tractor coming in their direction start to skid out of control two blocks away,  points at the incident, and tells his friend.  His friend looks up from reading, calculates that he will be across the intersection before the truck arrives, and goes back to reading.  The truck explodes into a fireball and continues towards the two men as they near the other side of the street.  The fellow reading People continues to read.  The People magazine reader failed to determine the speed, the momentum, and the possible chain reaction possible from the oncoming semi going out of control.  Those miscalculations will cost him his life.

To repeat the obvious.  No person should be allowed out of any country that has people infected with Ebola.  No exceptions till the contagion is checked.  Not to employ this recipe is to continue to read People magazine as our certain death approaches.

Ebola – Err on the Side of Caution (Part 3)

In this article I want to address:

  • The current status of air traffic from Ebola afflicted areas
  • Mechanisms for spreading the disease
  • Exactly where geographically Ebola has broken out
  • The incubation period for Ebola
  • The demographics of those dying from Ebola today
  • The error of over confidence

It is very good news that Nigeria’s biggest airline Arik has suspended all flights to Liberia and Sierra Leone.  We should remain hopeful that all airlines follow suit and suspend flights in and out of the afflicted areas. News reports concerning Ebola and their representation of difficulty in contracting the disease Global authorities on alert over Ebola outbreak from USA Today are likely false.  Ebola has been shown to be spread through fluid droplets between monkeys and pigs and it is easily conceivable given a large enough density of afflicted people to be communicated the same way in humans.  See From Pigs to Monkeys, Ebola Goes Airborne. For this reason it is clearly not a good idea to misrepresent the threat.

Yesterday I showed a chart of air traffic in the world but did not post an image of the afflicted regions.  Below is an image posted by The Economist showing the areas afflicted by Ebola.


Yesterday in conversation I was asked what the demographics of those who die from Ebola are compared to those who die from wars.  He also asked what the incubation period for Ebola was so as to understand the potential for spreading the disease without any knowledge of having it.   His questions led me to reading research articles on Ebola and an understanding of the effect of research on our ability to protect ourselves from high risk situations.  The best research I found was published by Centers of Disease Control and Prevention under the heading Emerging Infectious Diseases Volume 16, Number 7—July 2010 (*Note: This article has been pulled from the CDC website.)

The incubation period for Ebola, or the period between when you contract the disease and when you have symptoms, can be anywhere from 2 to 21 days with the medium period being 7 days. The incubation period reported is a data point with enough variance that we can accept it with extreme confidence.  This makes the threat of accidental transport extremely high.

The information provided in the report about the demographics of those dying from Ebola are as follows:

Case-patients’ ages ranged from 3 weeks to 70 years (mean 34 years, median 35 years). Most 40 (36%) case-patients were crop farmers; 14 (12%) were healthcare workers.

Clearly, all members of society are at risk contracting the disease and it is not just the young or old that die from contracting Ebola.

The analysis of this report indicates that most contracted the disease because they participated in burial rituals and that the disease is, in general, hard to contract.  It is on this point that we must be most careful.  This is the point that USA Today is using to pacify our fears and misses the mark completely on the reality of how diseases and their interaction with the global auger of humanity spread. The spread of disease is much more like water poured on a table than water poured into a crafted channel.   The water will spread according to least resistance and find invisible paths that  our cursory observations of the table missed.  Confidence and our desire to remain calm in this situation are our worst enemies.  We do not have the luxury of believing that transmission is so difficult and our health care systems so robust that there is minimal threat.

Is it possible that somebody could be infected in one of these countries and fly to the U.S.? It is certainly possible. Given our health care system, it’s unlikely that we would have widespread disease as a result. We would be on top of it, and we would be able to contain it. Our health care system affords people access to gloves and gowns and personal protective equipment. I don’t think there’s reason for panic that we’re going to be hit with an outbreak of Ebola. – W. Ian Lipkin told National Geographic

Our analysis should be less concerned with what situation transmitted the disease and more with the percentage of contractions based on density without extreme mobility.  The overall attack rate in some districts was 43 cases/100,000 population.  What this number does not represent is the concept of acceleration and momentum that occurs in a population with enough density and rapid transportation escalating the probabilities of exponential growth.  To exemplify this concept suppose Tom, a 35 year old business owner and long time allergy sufferer, contracts Ebola while on safari in Africa without having any idea that he has contracted the disease.  Tom returns to New York city 3 days after being on safari and plays basketball at noon with a group of players he has played with for years.  The players on the court change up from day to day and are known for entertaining business travelers in the finance industry from California, London, Tokyo, and Hong Kong.   Within the first week of returning Tom plays basketball with 40 different men ranging in age from 20 to 55, half of whom travel back to their perspective cities clueless of their having been in contact with Ebola.  How many people might have Ebola after three months if at the end of the first week 4 players, or 10%, have contacted Ebola from contact with Tom’s sweat while playing basketball? The number of possible people contracting Ebola after 3 months is 16 million people with a death rate of 40% amounting to approximately 6 million people.   These numbers exaggerate the potential because they assume extreme body fluid contact at a rate of 40 people a week.  It is not, however, unfathomable that the rate of close contact between the original 4 that contract Ebola is 1 person a week.  The total number of people with Ebola under these circumstances is 1 million after 12 weeks.

Shutting down all air traffic in and out of the affected areas will greatly increase our ability to control the disease.  More importantly, this situation is a situation to approach with caution, not over confidence.  Our history is riddled with a reference to the past being our predictor of the future only to be surprised at the outcome.   The past, even with respect to statistical analysis, is at best a potential predictor of outcomes.  It is best not to place all our marbles in the basket of confidence.



Ebola – Immediate Intervention Required (Part 2)

Ebola is number 2 on my Google News list.   I wish Ebola was at the top of my list and every single list presented to anyone who reads the news.  The reasons for elevated awareness are:

  • Extent
  • Immediacy
  • Remediation

One very good reason is that we should all understand the nature of what a threat is and its extent.  The percentage of deaths due to World War II as represented in terms of world population was approximately 4%.  Here is an infographic showing the extent of damage on human population due to wars.

Atrocities Timeline

Atrocities Timeline

Population Control, Marauder Style

Clearly the death toll from pandemics is much more substantial ranging anywhere from 3% to 70% of the population.

The immediacy of any given future event is unknown.  Odds are fickle.  There are, however reasonable expectations that can be set based on data.  We must ask ourselves what are the conditions that favor viruses.  Here is my list:

  • Existence
  • Temperature
  • Humidity
  • Host Density
  • Number of unprotected interactions per period of time

There is a current outbreak of Ebola in Africa.  It is the worst outbreak on record. We are in a time of increasing global temperature and humidity which is a highly favorable environmental factor for the longer survival times for viral transmission.  Although Ebola’s dominant transmission mechanism is contact there is substantial evidence that it can be contracted through several airborne mechanisms.  From Pigs to Monkeys, Ebola goes Airborne is an article discussing a scientific study demonstrating this possibility.  The population of earth is growing exponentially and represents a tremendous host environment for Ebola.  Here is a chart of world population.


Here is an image of global air travel:

Global Air Travel


It should be obvious that if several cases of Ebola are contracted by East Asia, European, or US businessmen that are international travelers the number of interactions with densely populated areas increases substantially.

The conclusion of this evidence is that all the conditions required for a global epidemic are in place waiting for the circumstances to favor the interaction.

It is for this reason that the news should show Ebola as the number one item and that all air traffic should be ceased in and out of the infected areas immediately.

Ebola – The Difference Between Near and Far

World votes are controlled tremendously through the advertisement of disasters that may happen or already have happened whose intercession is highly visible and controllable.  Think of global warming, meteor strikes, solar flairs, genocide, civil unrest, tsunamis, and crop disasters.  We all have to ask ourselves where it is we wish to invest with confidence that the investment in our collective future will have the greatest benefit.  How imminent is global warming on the health and welfare of your family, friends, and country?  How imminent is the probability of global epidemics and what are our policies to avert them.

Right now in Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia there is an outbreak of Ebola.  The death rate for those who contract the virus is currently 40%.  The most frequent catastrophic events that have had the greatest impact on the global population are viral outbreak events.  Below is a chart showing the frequency and extent of pandemics.

Pandemic Events

Pandemic Events

Historically it is obvious that pandemics have had a tremendous impact on human history.  It is worth noting that pandemics can shift the axis of political control and send the world into dark ages.  We currently have better control over disease itself than at any time in the history.  However, have much less control over the movement of people from one region to another.

When we consider where we should place the emphasis of our investments in controlling catastrophic future events, we should invest in the global control and the spread of viruses with unknown cures.  Currently, air traffic is moving in and out of the areas effected by ebola in Africa with travel warnings about the virus.  How can we guarantee that an infected person does not board a plane unsuspectingly transferring the threat from a region with little population movement to a region with great population movement such as Europe or the United States?

Epidemics are a human pathogen that spread at times following exponential growth functions.  Ebola is currently doubling the total infected people every month.  Here is the chart for the growth.

Ebola Virus 2014

Ebola Virus 2014