First US Ebola Patient Dies – Thoughts and Analysis.

ebola

On Fox News, we read:

The Liberian man diagnosed with Ebola last month just days after arriving in Texas has died after nearly two weeks in a Dallas hospital’s isolation room, officials confirmed.

Thomas Eric Duncan, believed to be 42,  who became the first person diagnosed with the killer virus on American soil during the current pandemic, died early Wednesday after a battle that sparked a national debate on screening of visitors from West Africa, which has been ravaged by the disease.

Just yesterday, the head of the CDC went on the air to reassure everyone, “Don’t panic, we have everything under control.” I agree that people shouldn’t panic, which doesn’t solve anything; but does the CDC really have everything under control?

Experimental drugs to treat the illness were apparently not effective:

His death came a day after officials began treating him with an experimental drug and days after he had taken a dramatic turn for the worse.

Of all natural catastrophes, a disease pandemic is one of the worst; and Ebola could be particularly nasty. Who typically catches Ebola? Family members and healthcare workers who were in close contact with victims. This means that typical healthcare procedures can’t be used to treat Ebola, unless the caretakers have a death wish. Apparently, a healthcare environment suited to complete isolation and quarantine is necessary.

How many Ebola patients could the US healthcare system care for in isolation facilities? 23. There are 23 beds available. This means that the US healthcare system is not prepared for a full-on pandemic. If Ebola were to become a true pandemic in the USA, there would be very little the healthcare establishment could do about it.

Disease pandemics are such a catastrophe because they strike at the very heart of modern society: the Division of Labor. In such a pandemic, people are afraid to travel. They are afraid to interact with one another. In some cases, people don’t even leave their houses. This has drastic consequences on society. Business basically halts. Production ceases.

The last major disease epidemic in the USA was the Influenza Pandemic of 1918. Approximately 600,000 Americans died. On a grander scale, I think the last truly apocalyptic catastrophe to afflict the West was the Irish Potato famine of the mid-1800s; over 1 million Irishmen died. Millions more emigrated to the USA and elsewhere. Overall, the famine depleted the population of Ireland by something like 30%. Nothing quite like it has been seen since. (The World Wars do not count, considering they were man-made catastrophes).

So we have been safe from disease pandemics for nearly 100 years, and have been safe from apocalyptic catastrophes for over 150 years. I think this has led to a sense of complacency in the West, and especially amongst Americans. We read about crappy overseas viruses and natural disasters and think “It can’t happen here.” It has happened here. Just not in recent memory. That doesn’t mean it will never happen again.

The birth of modern medicine and vaccination in the late 1800s was a boon. Suddenly, illnesses that previously seemed to mean certain death were treatable. For the past 120 years, disease and pandemic in the modernized world has seemed like a thing of the past. But all that really happened was that scientists got a huge lead over the germs, in the race between man and illness. But now the germs are catching up to the scientists. Mutations in germs that make them immune to known treatments are closing the gap. Ebola is one such germ that has overtaken us. Will we take back the lead? Will there be other contenders shortly behind it?

The problem with the current Ebola issue is this: even if it does became a truly grave threat to the USA, I don’t trust the government to be honest with us about the threat until it’s too late. The constant refrain from the Center for Disease Control has been the same over the past few months: “Don’t panic, we have everything under control.” Of course they’re going to say that. The CDC, as an agency ostensibly created to “serve the public interest”, does not actually have the public interest at heart; it has political interests at heart. CDC Director Tom Friedan was chosen to head the CDC in 2009 by President Obama; he has been a lifelong progressive political activist alongside his medical practices. He is going to do his damndest to protect the White House and his political allies, as do all major bureaucrats. His primary concern is not about serving the public, but rather serving his political masters and feathering his own nest. Therefore, his primary goal is to not rock the boat. His primary goal is to perpetuate the image that the government has everything under control, not alert the public of real and present danger. The US government may well have everything under control; but whether it does or doesn’t, Tom Friedan is unlikely to change his tune.

The best thing to do in this situation is to just try keeping informed of developments and plan your course of action accordingly. Maybe something will come of it all, or maybe nothing will. But my point is that we cannot trust the CDC and the US government to be honest with us. 

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