NOTE: This article does not constitute medical advice.
Ebola, a hemmorhagic fever, is not pretty. Here is the gruesome truth about it: Your insides (organs) essentially liquify and you bleed from every orifice as you slowly decline towards death, coughing and spattering infected material all the while. On average, 50% of those infected die, with a death rate as high as 90%.
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Quarantine and hygiene is the short answer to staying safe.
We're darn lucky the most recent Ebola outbreak, centered in Central Africa, never took hold in America. It made great sense [sting of sarcasm] for our "deciders in charge" to not only allow returning medical personnel who had contact with Ebola patients to use public air travel when returning to their home countries, including the U.S., and to not be quarantined when they arrived home, but they also actually flew infected patients here to America for treatment.
Insanity, in my opinion.
When serious viral outbreaks happen, the world has a perfect opportunity to at least contain these deadly situations to just one land mass -- it's called oceans, and immigration and air traffic control. I suggest we use all means next time, because with the internet, email, Skype, etc., more than ever before, we do not NEED to travel for business and hence no real necessity or excuse.
Based on how the latest pandemic threat was treated, though, we can expect more of the same in the future. Air travel and quarantines, or lack thereof, will be loosey goosey. Therefore, we must assume that the first confirmed case of Ebola, or H7N9, or whatever other infectious disease develops, will manifest on North American soil at some point.
So what can we expect when that happens? Helping address that question is really the impetus for this article.
The moment the main stream media reports the first case of non-contained, non-quarantined Ebola (or other serious) infection on American soil, the balloon has gone up. At that point, in my opinion, the game is afoot and you can assume Pandora's box is opened. . .we will have an uncontrolled outbreak.
We must realize the government and media will not want to inform the public that a serious, high-fatality infectious disease is loose in America. It's not just conspiracy theory to understand this reality.
Non-reporting, down playing, or outright lying about the facts to the public will be justified "officially and legally" by citing national security concerns.
Of course, they'd be correct in assuming the public would react negatively, with a high liklihood of panicking if a serious outbreak ensued. People would stay home from work, causing delays or interruption of services and goods. This could cause a cascading effect, resulting in severe shortages of essential goods and a big time national economic impact.
One can understand the threat of infectious disease by taking just a moment to think carefully about how infections spread.
The reality of germ transmission is known. Recent Ebola strains transmit through secretions of an infected host: blood, saliva, snot, feces, and urine.
We are all coming into contact with germs on a daily basis coming from all of the above listed sources -- it's how colds are spread. Elementary, you may say, but I cite the lack of concern when infected hosts were "on the loose" in Texas, travelling here and there, to the gas station and hospital uncontained.
Do people understand how commonly and easily germs are spread?
A sick person wipes his nose with his hand, or rubs his eyes. He then touches a gas pump, a door handle, and the pen on the credit card machine at the gas station. Everyone else who touches those items and then touches their steering wheel, door handle, face, or nose -- that's how it spreads. And spread it will.
With an R2 rating, the computer modeling shows that each Ebola sufferer will infect TWO (2) additional people. We can see how quickly and exponentially this virus would spread were it to be unleashed on a large city.
Consider the incubation period of Ebola specifically: up to twenty-one (21) days.
By the time one Ebola case is confirmed in New York City, the infected person could have been walking around spreading the sickness for THREE WEEKS. The problem cascades downward from there. Each person that is infected in that period is then doing the same for up to three MORE weeks.
Once an infection is discovered in a large city: It has already spread to other cities and in the days following the first confirmed (admitted and reported) case, the subsequent cases will be geographically diversified; people in that first city have retuned home from a business trip, gone to work in another area, or are just arriving for a vacation. It will take up to 21 days for those people to even realize they're sick.
For the affected city, the medical establishment will be immediately overwhelmed and under staffed. The number of people who would be infected quickly makes it impossible to follow CDC guidelines for containment. Not only do we have the logistical impossibilities of having enough hospital beds or staff within the existing healthcare system to accommodate the number of patients, but the equipment and training at a normal hospital is not adequate to effectively contain a disease such as Ebola. Under normal circumstances, MRSA and even strep throat spread to dangerous levels in hospitals, unable to be contained. Ebola is also contagious and far more deadly. Normal hospitals cannot and will not contain an infectious disease outbreak with a high rate of transmission. It will simply have to run its course and "burn itself out" as the Spanish Flu did in 1915, killing millions worldwide.
If you are in an affected city, my recommendation would be the same as if your city is not yet infected: The only way to 100% avoid a contagion is to not interact with anyone or any thing that circulates in public places.
Most diseases burn out (run their course) within 6 to 12 months. When an infection begins, it spreads slowly, then speeds up...then its spread slows back down and then it disappears largely. Once that course is run, the disease should recede -- at least temporarily.
During this 6 to 12 month timeframe, the only way to insure not getting infected will be to quarantine. One cannot go to the store or even leave the house, nor accept any visitors to your home. It is the physical barrier which is the only sure method of not transmitting a virus. For this situation, we are back to the good old basics of water, food, and defense.
We must have a clean water source.
We must have enough food to last a year or more.
...and we must be able to maintain our homes in means of sanitation, defense of our resources, heat, and paying rent or mortgage.
Finally, is preparing for the mental aspect of maintaining these restrictive new rules of life, keeping to oneself and withdrawling from society.
Do not accept mail. Do not accept UPS packages. Do not go to the store for food. You must have collected the things you need before panic strikes -- you must take nothing from the outside if you want to be 100% certain that there is no incoming pathogen.
Could you manage this type of stressful situation if you could even do it, financially?
For most, unless there was a national moratorium on bills in general for the purpose of successful self quarantine (which could be done), we could not afford to not go to work -- one brave family member might have to continue to work as normal in order to pay bills while the rest of the family stayed at a safe quarantined area until the disease runs its course.
It's a terrible scenario. We would all have a choice to make:
1. Continue our lives as normal, working, school, etc., risking infection and probable death if infected.
2. Choose to implode our current lifestyle, potentially lose our job, our house, etc., to stay healthy for a period of time and thereby escape infection.
That is the choice. Plain and simple.
The only way to avoid infection 100% is complete quarantine.
It's true that our medical system could save far more lives than have been saved in Sierra Leone, etc., AT FIRST, but as the system was overwhelmed with numbers of sick patients that would change quickly. It would be a losing battle.
Final thoughts to remember:
Ebola and other serious infectious diseases are not to be underestimated. Pay close attention to outbreaks and do your own research. We will likely not get the full truth from the media until it's too late, should a risk develop. If you wait to plan for a serious pandemic, you probably won't have enough time or resources to get the necessary pieces in place to successfully self quarantine.
Here is a great article you may find interesting: