As The Wall Street Journal reported Friday, the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the current Ebola outbreak a global health emergency. About 1,800 cases of the virus were reported to WHO, with approximately 1,000 deaths attributed to the outbreak.
“The outbreak is moving faster than we can control it,” said Margaret Chan, WHO director general. “Countries affected to date simply do not have the capacity to manage an outbreak of this size and complexity on their own.”
What is key, doctors say, about this particular Ebola outbreak is that the surge in cases of the virus over the 48-hour period prior to the WHO’s declaration has broken the usual rhythm of the epidemic. According to the WSJ, Ebola generally takes eight to twelve days from the moment of infection to become symptomatic. Previous increases in Ebola cases rose and fell according to the pace of that incubation period.
With the current outbreak, doctors are seeing “back-to-back surges in patient volumes.” According to Sierra Leone Red Cross spokesman Abubakar Tarawelly, ten people reportedly died on Friday at a field clinic there, followed by the arrival of 40 additional infected individuals.
“The number keeps rising,” Tarawelly said. “It’s getting too much for our volunteers.”
In an op-ed at WND.com, Dr. Jane Orient, executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), said the Ebola virus’ current unusual path is a “wake-up call” to Americans.
“Unlike previous outbreaks, this one is occurring in major cities, with potentially devastating consequences,” writes Orient.
She observes that Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) initially said on August 1 that an Ebola outbreak in the U.S. is “not in the cards,” yet just six days later on August 7, said the disease would “inevitably” reach the United States.
A press release by CDC on August 6 states, “U.S. hospitals can safely manage patients with Ebola disease. The key factors are isolation of patients, diligent environmental cleaning and disinfection, and protection of healthcare providers.”
The CDC continues to maintain on its website that “Ebola is transmitted through direct contact with the blood or bodily fluids of an infected symptomatic person or through exposure to objects (such as needles) that have been contaminated with infected secretions.” In addition, CDC says that Ebola “is not a respiratory disease like the flu,” and so it not able to be transmitted through the air. It states the virus is also not food or water-borne.
Orient, however, observes a disconnect between what the CDC states in its guidance and the images Americans see of CDC personnel transporting Ebola patients while wearing pressurized suits and self-contained breathing apparatus (SBCA), “a level of precaution well beyond the gloves, mask and hand-washing used by hospitals or emergency medical response teams,” she says.
“Is this just excessive caution?” Orient asks.
Dr. Lee Vliet, a past director of AAPS and a Preventive Medicine physician with practices in Arizona and Texas, told Breitbart News, “I think the contradictions in CDC statements contribute to public confusion, uncertainty, and loss of confidence that our CDC is really on top of these serious issues.”
In contrast to what the CDC presents, the Public Health Agency of Canada pathogen safety data sheet concerning the Ebola virus suggests the possibility that humans may be infected with Ebola through airborne spread:
Humans may be infected by handling sick or dead non-human primates and are also at risk when handling the bodies of deceased humans in preparation for funerals, suggesting possible transmission through aerosol droplets…In the laboratory, infection through small-particle aerosols has been demonstrated in primates, and airborne spread among humans is strongly suspected, although it has not yet been conclusively demonstrated… The importance of this route of transmission is not clear. Poor hygienic conditions can aid the spread of the virus.
In addition, the Canadian Pathogen Safety Data Sheet states that Ebola is communicable “as long as blood, secretions, organs, or semen contain the virus.” Regarding transmission of the virus through semen, that data sheet indicates, “Ebola virus has been isolated from semen 61 days after the onset of illness, and transmission through semen has occurred 7 weeks after clinical recovery.”
Orient observes that, contrary to the CDC’s guidance, some scientists have noted the Ebola virus’ transmission via infected bush meat eaten in West Africa.
As a result of the unusual path of the current Ebola outbreak, and the discrepancy in information about the virus’ transmission, Orient suggests that the United States cannot dismiss the notion that biological agents like the Ebola virus can be very effective weapons of terrorism.
“[B]iological agents are far more effective–and once released, they keep proliferating, unlike radioactivity or chemicals, which decay,” she wrote.
“Whatever the source, epidemics like Ebola must not be viewed with complacency,” she warns.
Vliet also expressed concern about contradictions in releases of information from CDC regarding the recent communicable diseases being identified in the surge of illegal border crossers, as well as the Ebola outbreak.
She noted that on August 1, when CDC’s Frieden said an Ebola outbreak in the U.S. was “not in the cards,” the WHO said the disease was spreading out of control in West Africa, and flights from those areas to major European capitals were still being permitted.
“To a concerned public these obvious contradictions heighten the sense of distrust in what they are being told,” Vliet states.
“The CDC director said earlier this summer that the illegal border crossers posed ‘low or no risk to the American public’ from the communicable diseases like TB, Swine flu, chicken pox, and others,” Vliet added. “Yet this contradicts CDC‘s own data posted on their website: 91% of multi-drug resistant TB and 64% of drug susceptible TB diagnosed in the U.S. occurs in people born outside of the U.S.”
“So clearly TB, though already here, is brought to America by those from other countries that have not eradicated or controlled the disease as has the United States,” she said.