Disaster in the South Pacific

The 1918 influenza pandemic hit every country on Earth – well, almost every country. It missed American Samoa entirely, which is interesting.  It’s even more interesting when you notice that it hit the neighboring islands of West Samoa harder than anywhere else.

Worldwide,  the Spanish Flu killed 3-5% of the population – lower in most developed countries, which had better supportive therapy.  Medicos had no useful vaccines or  antiviral agents: in fact they mistakenly thought it was caused by a bacterium. Doctors were useless, but nurses were not.

In the South Pacific, the flu was spread by the SS Talune, which regularly visited Tonga, Fiji, American Samoa, and West Samoa.  Crewmen had picked up the flu in New Zealand and spread it to those ports, excepting American Samoa.

The islands of Western Samoa were administered by New Zealand, which had recently seized them from Germany. The administrator (Colonel Robert Logan) had little administrative experience (former sheep farmer) – he felt that he needed approval from Wellington for any action and he received no instructions.  Medical officers also waited for instructions – none came. In addition, plantation interests were important, and they opposed any quarantine, which was also the case in Fiji. So, no quarantine. Thing went very badly: so many were sick (~90% of the population)  that few were left to care for them. Since food was mostly in gardens, rather in cupboards,  people starved while weak.  Europeans were less vulnerable, and those that could helped, but there were relatively few in Western Samoa.  20-25% of the population died, concentrated among young adults, the highest death rate in the world.

American Samoa was physically quite close to Western Samoa, less than 100km. There were close cultural ties: people intermarried and often sailed back and forth.  But the governmental structure was different.  There were no copra plantations in American Samoa, so you didn’t have any powerful business interests lobbying for suicide.  The US Navy ran the colony.  John Martin Poyer, an officer that had retired from active duty due to illness, was brought back to active duty in 1915 to serve as Governor of American Samoa.

Both American Samoa and West Samoa had advance warning of the flu’s danger: they both had wireless sets and occasional mail.

Washington didn’t micro-manage American Samoa, not being all that interested.  A policy of benign neglect was interpreted by Poyer as an opportunity to act on his best judgment, in the finest traditions of the US Navy.  He imposed quarantine. That was harder that it sounds, because of the frequent family visits between West Samoa and American Samoa – but Poyer also had  the support of the local  chiefs, who understood how serious imported epidemics could be.  The people of American Samoa self-blockaded, on top of official quarantine: they sent out canoes to stop any and all visitors.  They never had a single case.

Of course there was a disaster.  Some people will think that it occurred in West Samoa. Others will think that the real disaster was in American Samoa.

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136 Responses to Disaster in the South Pacific

  1. dearieme says:

    Presumably you can’t do quarantine nowadays because it would effectively be an example of the Terrible Crime of profiling.

    • DrBill says:

      Dallas Ebola guy’s family is forcibly confined—forcibly in the sense of men with guns—to their apartment at present and for the next few weeks.

      • ironrailsironweights says:

        That sort of quarantine is acceptable today. Forbidding people from Liberia and Sierra Leone from entering the US would be unacceptable on political correctness grounds.

        Peter

        • epiminondas says:

          And if the disease mutates into an airborne infection, PC will become a killer.

          • Greying Wanderer says:

            they pretend to be when the nice white ladies are around but the multitude of ethnic enclaves in the urban blight aren’t PC at all under the surface so… that could get interesting.

            it amazes me now and maybe i just wasn’t paying enough attention but even twenty years ago i still thought the future looked quite bright.

            ah well.

          • Mark P. says:

            ‘And if the disease mutates into an airborne infection, PC will become a killer.’

            [1] Never say never, but for reasons to do with the architecture of the Ebola virus the prospect of an airborne version is extremely unlikely. The old Soviet bioweapons program, Biopreparat, poured an immense amount of resources and man-hours (from talented people, in some cases) into the project for over a decade or so and failed to weaponize Ebola satisfactorily.

            And I know this because I spent time chatting with several former Biopreparat scientists — including its erstwhile director K. Alibek (a glorified pathologist) and Serguei Popov (highly talented; first person in the old USSR to manually synthesize DNA in the early 1970s; first person to lead successful development of a completely novel pathogen that I know of) — who were talking their book as former bioweaponeers trying to get biodefense funding. Even they eventually had to be up front about Ebola in its classical form being somewhat of a non-starter as a bioweapon.

            [2] That said, there are are some complex strategies whereby you might conceivably weaponize Ebola as part of a non-classical agent and get a pretty apocalyptic result. I’m not giving any specifics here, but if you google the terms ‘binary inoculary’ and ‘Serguei Popov’ and ‘Venezuelan equine encephalitis’ you might get the general idea.

            However, aside from such strategies — in which, essentially, Ebola becomes no longer a classical agent — because of the virus’s architecture and because when humans becomes its host population it burns through victims far too fast and spectacularly, the virus is a textbook example of how a spectacularly lethal pathogen can be fairly useless in terms of creating an epidemic in any developed nation

          • Mark P. says:

            [3] Also, based on the assumptions about Ebola expressed by many commenters, it’s fairly clear that about 90 percent of the folks posting here — on a blog about HBD and, thus, about genetics and molecular biology — wouldn’t know what an envelope glycoprotein precursor was if it bit them in the face, and in general know nothing about molecular biology.

            I suppose a lot of you are here for the racism, therefore. You’re amusing, at least.

      • Flinders Petrie says:

        “You don’t know Ebola at the level of molecular biology; therefore you are a racist for having an opinion about it.”

        Thanks for the laugh.

  2. dearieme says:

    Another way to look at this is to say that everyone (except perhaps religious lunatics?) accepts that one legit role for government is in Public Health, in the classical sense of trying to stop the spread of infectious diseases. Therefore on what topic can you guarantee that a stupid, incompetent, ever-growing, over-bearing, reckless government will prove utterly useless? Yup.

    • JayMan says:

      One would think…

    • sainchuck says:

      as a former ancap im wondering if ppl would accept being quaranteed by their insurer.the insurer could enforce it under the threat to cut their payouts.would ppl sign such a contract upfront?would the insurers even act. im quessing it would be in their interest.

      • Hoopty Freud says:

        They’d sign it and then instantly violate it when the time came.

        If ancapism came naturally to any human subgroup (never mind most of them), at least some of them would be living that way already.

  3. Weltanschauung says:

    Europeans were less vulnerable, and those that could helped, but there were relatively few in American Samoa. 20-25% of the population died…

    s/American/Western/

  4. west hunter says:

    America doesn’t need quarantine because we have the power of positive thinking.

  5. Frito Bandito says:

    “Others will think that the real disaster was in American Samoa.”

    Libertarians?

  6. Diana says:

    http://tinyurl.com/nmx7x42
    Garza comes this close to saying we should quarantine. But no cigar.
    Guess which Western country is not sending medical personnel to the Ebola Zone.

  7. Toddy Cat says:

    “powerful business interests lobbying for suicide”

    Somehow, this reminds me of something regarding immigration, but I’m not sure what…

  8. ziel says:

    Well George Will was on Fox last night explaining how it’s impossible to stop people coming from Liberia because they could just go to Milan first and then come here [presumably with a forged passport?] and so all we can do is hope. So that shows how much you know!

    • Toddy Cat says:

      Just when you think that George Will couldn’t get any stupider, as Reagan would have said, “There he goes again!” He should stick to writing about baseball. He’s wrong about that, too, but at least he’s harmless.

  9. O'Nonymous says:

    From today’s Politico…

    Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on Friday said restricting travel between the U.S. and West Africa would likely “backfire” and put Americans more at risk of contracting Ebola.
    Appearing on MSNBC, Frieden was asked about potentially prohibiting air travel between the U.S. and West Africa, where the Ebola outbreak is most widespread. He said that such a restriction would likely be ineffective and would make it harder for health officials to root out the virus.

  10. I mentioned yesterday that I had a contract to install computer systems at the Public Health Institute in Berkeley. There was almost no one doing public health there. They had repositioned their organizational mission to ‘opposing racism’. They seemed to think they had transcended mere public health.

    There was one exception, an old public health physician kept an office there. He was in fact just about the only person there worth talking to. He and his colleagues elsewhere were involved with the 1918 flu virus. They were trying to identify it and possibly develop some kind of controls. They were worried that it might come back. It was heartening to find that not everyone was just being politically correct. I think he was 85. On his birthday I made him tell anecdotes about Al Capone. We discussed Duesberg too who was still relevant then.

    I had known a lot of public health physicians early in my career but by the end, the whole field seems to have withered. I hope I’m wrong about that.

    • DrBill says:

      The March of Dimes was a charity devoted to the fight against Polio in the United States. When Polio went away, naturally the March of Dimes did too. Except it didn’t.

      It’s the same for public health schools. There is really nothing much for them to do anymore, if you confine your attention to actual public health. So, cigarette smoking becomes public health, obesity becomes public health, violence becomes public health, terrorism becomes public health, etc. Basically, if a subject is vaguely related to people getting sick or dying and there is federal grant money available, then the subject is public health. The opposing racism business is an epiphenomenon of the funding available for research on racial disparities in health.

      • ironrailsironweights says:

        The March of Dimes was a charity devoted to the fight against Polio in the United States. When Polio went away, naturally the March of Dimes did too. Except it didn’t.

        Once polio ceased to be a risk the March of Dimes re-purposed itself to the fight against birth defects. That sounds quite sensible to me.

        Peter

      • peppermint says:

        nutrition is public health, but helping Whites is not on anyone’s agenda.

      • R. says:

        So, cigarette smoking becomes public health, obesity becomes public health..

        It is a very costly public health problem. A cardiologist I know says he’d be at least 85% less busy if so many people were not committing mortal sins, specifically gluttony on a daily basis.

    • georgesdelatour says:

      “He and his colleagues elsewhere were involved with the 1918 flu virus.” – So how old was he?

  11. GoneWithTheWind says:

    President Ebola has determined that we cannot prevent anyone from coming to this country so if people must die President Ebola could care less.

  12. I think the key issue is the management of blame. If the authorities stop some-one coming directly from an infected area to an uninfected area without a period of observation in quarantine, they will be held responsible for having inconvenienced a large number of uninfected travelers. Identifying a few infected persons will seem almost redundant because the authorities assume that, being responsible and truthful citizens, infected persons would have handed themselves in to the health authorities the moment they started having symptoms. Hence, no need for quarantine. The authorities also assume that people tell the truth on travel forms, and are bright enough to work out whether they are a vector.
    So, the powers that be have a fall-back position: they assume that people are honest and, if not, they imagine can deal with the problem later. The authorities do not want to be seen treating an African from Milan the same as an African from Liberia, because that would prove they had identified him as an African. They also assume that tracing 100 possibly infected persons is less onerous than applying quarantine restrictions in the first place. Once the virus takes a good hold then the authorities assume that the outbreak will not be anyone’s fault, because it will be a fact of nature.
    Those against quarantine should recall the IRA’s warning when they blew up the conference hotel where Mrs Thatcher and her Cabinet were sleeping but failed to assassinate her: “Today we were unlucky, but remember, we have only to be lucky once. You will have to be lucky always.”

  13. Anonymous says:

    I would like to bring us up to date on the latest disease to occupy our attention and that is ebola. While ebola is still spreading in Africa at that very key rate, plus 1.0 persons per infected, it is still a disease that requires direct fluid to fluid contact. Let me summarize. Ebola is a growing disease in Africa but it wouldn’t be elsewhere because of its means of transmission. A disease that transmits bodily fluid to bodily fluid should be in a modern country easy to contain. There is more to it than that. Very small doses of ebola that reaches the bodily fluids of another cause the disease to spread. Here is an example of the difference between aids and ebola. When a person washes the body of a dead person that has died of aids there is almost no chance that they will contact aids. When a dead person that has died of ebola is washed, common practice in Africa, it is quite likely the washer of the dead will get ebola. This is because a very small dose of ebola is sufficient to transfer the disease. So……our headlines spill the fear of an ebola epidemic. But the means of transmission and the way to control the epidemic, are not spelled out to a public ready to buy into fear but reluctant to consume complex answers to complex problems. Ebola is coming! It’s gonna kill millions! It could. But not because the disease is that contagious, because the control of the disease is utterly mismanaged where it is now established and growing. Allow me to differentiate between contagious and not contagious in a crude but still functional way. I cough you get it is very contagious. We share bodily fluids is not very contagious. The headlines don’t educate, they attract eyes. Too bad, the truth was once held in higher esteem.

    • The fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:

      While ebola is still spreading in Africa at that very key rate, plus 1.0 persons per infected, it is still a disease that requires direct fluid to fluid contact.

      That is what a lot of people would have us believe, including the CDC, however, there appears to have been experiments showing that that is not so. What evidence do you have that it requires direct fluid to fluid contact?

      • That is what the medical profession now believes. Until evidence comes in that refutes that, I will believe it as well. I had a long talk with a medical doctor about the spread of ebola in Africa. They have long standing funeral practices which they aren’t giving up where the dead are washed by relatives and that is the primary means of transmission. Can the means of transmission change? yes Could there be other less common means of transmission? yes.

        Education from medical professionals rather than the ignorant and fear mongering press seems to be the best way to go at present.

        • Toddy Cat says:

          A number of trained medical professionals have acquired this disease this time around. Were they engaged in traditional African funeral practices?

        • Ebola-Chan says:

          Education from medical professionals rather than the ignorant and fear mongering press seems to be the best way to go at present.

          Didn’t medical professionals say that standard gown and mask would be enough to protect against it in a clinical environment? And don’t we have mulitiple medical professionals who contracted Obola in West Africa despite the use of gown and mask?

        • Diana says:

          Like this medical professional?

          “Could the virus suddenly change itself such that it could be spread through the air?

          Like measles, you mean? Luckily that is extremely unlikely. But a mutation that would allow Ebola patients to live a couple of weeks longer is certainly possible and would be advantageous for the virus. But that would allow Ebola patients to infect many, many more people than is currently the case.”

          http://tinyurl.com/nd2pn4x

          Read the whole thing. Not very encouraging.

          • Diana says:

            ” it is still a disease that requires direct fluid to fluid contact.”

            I don’t. believe this. I don’t believe that this is the medical consensus. There’s a lot we do NOT know about how filoviruses are transmitted. Also, the reality of the virus mutating to having a longer incubation period is quite high.

            Rick Sacra has been admitted to UMass Memorial for pneumonia. He was “cured” of Ebola but probably has a permanently damaged immune system. Great.

            The outbreak in TX will be contained because they were the first and were lucky. What happens if and when Ebola comes to 10-20-30 areas? It will bust the bank, that’s what.

        • The means of transmission of ebola are described here http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/transmission/ .

          • Ebola Chan says:

            I wonder which of those means of transmission of obola occurred in Spain recently? She worked in a 1st world hospital treating a priest who had been evacuated from Africa. Didn’t you assure us this could not happen? Yet it did, didn’t it?

            In the BBC article it is stated that the nurse first felt ill while on holiday. Was she in a communicable state then, I wonder, or not until later?

      • Anthony says:

        Sweat is a bodily fluid.
        Remember, it’s only an STD if even some fluids aren’t enough for transmission.

    • ziel says:

      In the back of my mind I keep believing that our leaders are not as stupid as they sound…that they’ve gotten together and said “Holy Shit – some guy just came her from Liberia with Ebola – this is not going to happen again – we’ll pretend everything’s ok and there’s no need to panic, but between us we’re going to make sure that no one else who might have Ebola is going to sneak in here again..” But in the front of my brain, I have a feeling that only the B.S. is operative, the sensible stuff is nowhere to be found.

      • Conan says:

        “Education from medical professionals” is better than the “fear mongering press”? When AIDS started there were perhaps 100,000 homosexuals and bisexuals spreading it in the US. But “medical professionals” did not demand quarantines, shutting down bathhouses, etc. Now we have 50,000 new AIDS infections a year and a multi-billion dollar medical industry–pharmaceuticals, doctors, researchers, social workers, home nurses–serving them. I think Ebola is the next big growth industry for the “medical professionals” if we can just keep the borders open to West Africa and get enough new cases in the USA.

    • Bert says:

      It seems to me that if a disease spreads via small amounts of bodily fluids, it should be able to spread through the air: if you sneeze, water droplets are emitted.

    • Greying Wanderer says:

      “A disease that transmits bodily fluid to bodily fluid should be in a modern country easy to contain.”

      “should” but doesn’t that also imply:

      sexual transmission -> PC taboo -> lots of dead bodies

      ?

    • Ebola-Chan says:

      “Direct fluid to fluid contact” sounds nice and tidy. Vomit is a fluid. So is diarrhea. Obola patients produce copious amounts of both, and apparently it takes more than a pair of vinyl gloves to keep someone working to clean up protected. The total mass of contaminated bedding, towels, bandages, etc. generated by one patient in one hospital is non trivial and it must be handled as an extreme hazmat disposal.

      What about sputum? Is Obola contained in that? How long does the virus survive on a tile surface at 72 degrees F? Suppose one walks into a public bathroom in an international US airport and finds a major diarrhea & vomitus pool on the floor by slipping and falling into it, any risk Anonymous?

      In the early 1980’s many false statements were made by medical professionals about HIV, to prevent panic. As a result deep needle sticks were not always treated popular, and health workers in some cases caught AIDS from patients. As a result of that I do not trust medical professionals this time around, because lie to me once, shame on you…

    • Diana says:

      If Ebola isn’t terribly communicable, then why does it take “four people wearing protective suits, one at each corner of the body bag” to carry away a corpse?

      http://tinyurl.com/kdx9b6v

      • gcochran9 says:

        Even if the chance of infection from casual contact is low, say 5%, which is probably too low for a self-sustaining epidemic in US conditions, the disease is mighty dangerous, and so being cautious makes sense.

        • Diana says:

          Of course. My point is “US conditions” cost money.

          How much is this Ebola guy costing us? I have no doubt we’ll contain the Ebola outbreak in Texas. I have no doubt it will cost a bundle. What happens when there are more outbreaks? And they will. More money wasted. There’s not an infinite amount of ruin in a nation.

        • The fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:

          But a talking head on TV just said that thousands of people die from Influenza each year, so what are we worrying about?

    • Diana says:

      Anonymous: “at very key rate, plus 1.0 persons per infected, it is still a disease that requires direct fluid to fluid contact. ”

      ” In late 1989, virus researcher Charles L. Bailey supervised the government’s response to an outbreak of Ebola among several dozen rhesus monkeys housed for research in Reston, Va., a suburb of Washington.

      What Bailey learned from the episode informs his suspicion that the current strain of Ebola afflicting humans might be spread through tiny liquid droplets propelled into the air by coughing or sneezing.

      “We know for a fact that the virus occurs in sputum and no one has ever done a study [disproving that] coughing or sneezing is a viable means of transmitting,” he said. Unqualified assurances that Ebola is not spread through the air, Bailey said, are “misleading.”

      Read the whole thing:

      http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-ebola-questions-20141007-story.html#page=2

      • Richard Sharpe says:

        There is an article out there that claims that pig to monkey airborne transmission was demonstrated but when they tried monkey to monkey it didn’t happen.

        However, maybe they didn’t try hard enough and maybe monkeys in cages are not a good analog of humans in a big city situation.

  14. the above comment is me

  15. Five Daarstens says:

    it’s interesting that there was no mass epidemic in WWII and the aftermath, even though there was a great geographic movement of peoples just like in WWI. it’s almost like that generation forgot about the Spanish Flu because of this.

  16. karch_buttreau says:

    We permit these idiot non-scientist types to not vaccinate their kids for Measles (R0 value of 18), so to even think about quarantine for Ebola (R0 value of 1.5) is ludicrous, IMO. R0 = basic reproduction rate.

    The pattern is pretty obvious. Patient zero will infect a bunch of people, because people don’t initially realize that patient zero had Ebola. After that, though, virtually zero for the next generation. We saw that in Nigeria with Patrick Sawyer. He was patient zero there, infected 20 nurses and so forth, and no one else got infected from that generation forward.

    Do you guys seriously think that our medical systems, our sanitation systems, are worse than Nigeria’s? Really?

    • melendwyr says:

      And when the disease mutates to a more covert form, as is increasingly likely as the number of infected increases? What then?

      • karch_buttreau says:

        If and when the facts change, I’ll re-evaluate. Been waiting for avian flu to mutate as well. I will guess that Enterovirus D68 will kill more in the U.S. than Ebola.

        • Toddy Cat says:

          By the time you re-evaluate, it may be too late. People are betting an awful lot of lives on being right about a disease we are really not that familiar with. Russian roulette, Karch? I mean, the odds are in your favor…

          • karch_buttreau says:

            Ebola has been around for millions of years in bats or whatever. HIV, influenza, hepatitis… why aren’t you guys afraid that this will go airborne? The thing about influenza is that it is an upper respiratory infection so that it causes coughing and sneezing. Ebola does not do that (neither does HIV, hepatitis…).

            We’re not anything like Africa. Africa is like skid row. No toilets, no running water, no places to wash your hands… none of us are living in those conditions. If you’re not in contact with a patient zero, you’ll be all right.

          • karch_buttreau says:

            by “this” I meant HIV, Hepatitis, influenza…. why not worry about those going airborne, too?

            Anyway, my main point is that we can’t even get serious about vaccinations, so talk of quarantining entire countries is ridiculous by comparison.

            A few other notes. I would not extrapolate the death rates in Africa to the U.S. Incomparable. 12 of the 20 infected by Patrick Sawyer survived with just palliative care in Nigeria by the way (that was the Zaire strain IIRC). So the death rate is not even 90% for the Zaire strain in a hospital in Africa.

            There may be some effective drugs, as well, but these tort lawyers are f—ing everything up and all these doctors and pharmaceutical companies are cowed. Damn, who should be controlling your medical care, a doctor or a f—ing lawyer? Anyway, look up these two drugs: Lamivudine and Favipiravir.

          • Anonymous says:

            Couple other points. Those two drugs mentioned above (Lamivudine and Favipiravir) are easy to make, ordinary drugs (very mass producible). They’re not exotic genetically engineered biotech like Zmapp.

            And one extra item about Patrick Sawyer. He was not diagnosed with Ebola until the day before he died, and when informed, he apparently became belligerent and urinated on his attending nurses/doctors. Can you imagine the viral load?

          • karch_buttreau says:

            Couple other points. Those two drugs mentioned above (Lamivudine and Favipiravir) are easy to make, ordinary drugs (very mass producible). They’re not exotic genetically engineered biotech like Zmapp.

            And one extra item about Patrick Sawyer. He was not diagnosed with Ebola until the day before he died, and when informed, he apparently became belligerent and urinated on his attending nurses/doctors. Can you imagine the viral load?

    • Greying Wanderer says:

      patient -> female nurse

      patient -> male nurse

      might be different

    • The fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:

      Intracellular Events and Cell Fate in Filovirus Infection points out that:

      Besides the typical target cells for ZEBOV and MARV infection in non-human primates, additional target cells were occasionally found in individual animals. These cells included alveolar epithelial cells, bronchial epithelial cells and the cells of endocardial layer [50].

      I think it would be prudent to not distinguish between ZEBOV and the other variants of EBOV, and I am sure that a super intelligence of your caliber can understand what it means when bronchial and alveolar epithelial cells are infected with the virus.

    • John Hostetler says:

      Vaccine opponents are unwitting freeloaders on herd immunity, obsessed by alternative agendas. For most, their reproductive gain in joining the 99+% of parents who do opt for MMR would be tiny.

    • Diana says:

      “Do you guys seriously think that our medical systems, our sanitation systems, are worse than Nigeria’s? Really?”

      No they are much better. And they cost. How much money will 50-100 cases here cost? How much money is Ebola Eric costing us?

      This could become endemic in Liberia, Guinea, SL. If that’s so, then they will be leaking virus-ridden people to the US for years to come.

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/cdc-ebola-could-infect-14-million-in-west-africa-by-end-of-january-if-trends-continue/2014/09/23/fc260920-4317-11e4-9a15-137aa0153527_story.html

      • The fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:

        There are other aspects here to consider as well. Someone else has already mentioned the travel aspects as far as Ebola getting to the US. This strain has an incubation period such that people who are infected can get to the US and escape detection while doing so. And when in the US, they can travel large distances spreading the disease around as well.

        However, another aspect is that we have a large number of systems that seem to have low resiliency. Once panic sets in among the left half of the distribution, are we going to be able to keep those important systems going? Further, how many cases will it take before our medical system is overwhelmed?

      • Richard Sharpe says:

        Someone else on the dangers:

        http://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2014/10/06/epidemiologist-stop-the-flights-now/

        Having our medical system overwhelmed by people from those countries sounds like a good idea.

  17. Anthony says:

    I made this comment in an earlier, staler thread, so I’ll make it here, too:

    Are there racial differences in Ebola’s infectiousness?
    Are there sex differences, as Greying Wanderer asks above?

    • MawBTS says:

      65-75% of fatalities are women. But women are more likely to be in a caregiver role.

      No idea about race. Have any non-Africans been infected except that Hispanic priest and those two white aid workers?

    • Gordo says:

      I think traditionally female relatives wash the body before burial.

      • Diana says:

        Corpses are loaded with the virus.

        I wonder, how long are the corpses virulent before the virus “dies” with the host?

        Anybody know?

        • MawBTS says:

          Don’t know, probably weeks. The disease has been passed on through sexual intercourse as long as seven weeks after the carrier was symptom free.

          As I understand it, the problem isn’t so much the corpses as the fact that a diseased person sloughs off around 60 pounds of infectious medical waste before they die. A disease-riddled corpse is obviously dangerous (though have fun getting rid of it). A wet patch of mucous on a wall…not so much.

    • Greying Wanderer says:

      “Are there sex differences, as Greying Wanderer asks above?”

      I was thinking more in terms of differences in an infected person spreading it (if sexual transmission is a factor).

      (On the assumption that nursing is a pretty good job in most of the affected areas and thus nurses being unlikely to be prostitutes on the side.)

  18. j says:

    Generally speaking, American doctors are familiar with diseases and are not stupid. It is a bad sign that they got infected.

  19. Old fogey says:

    We have been told that there is no drug or treatment that will help victims, so why are people with ebola symptoms being hospitalized? Is there anything that can be done for them in a hospital that cannot be done at home? (I am still scratching my head at the thought of the emergency room physicians giving the patient in Dallas a prescription for antibiotics even after determining that he was suffering from a viral infection.)

    I remember as a small child seeing apartment doors marked specifically to warn people that someone within was infectious. (This was in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, during the depression.) At that time scarlet fever was usually the cause. Probably most people realize that they are ill in the presence of a family member or friend and that in such an instance that family member has already been put in danger and thus (before acquiring any symptoms himself) would be the most suitable nurse for the sick person, instead of introducing the infection to a hospital already full of ill people. Shouldn’t physicians tell anyone phoning to describe ebola-like symptoms to stay put, have no physical contact with others, but set up regular telephone connections with family and friends, keep warm, drink plenty of water, and rest until the disease runs its course.

    • gcochran9 says:

      Supportive therapy. If someone has low blood oxygen levels, because lungs are messed up, oxygen can sometimes keep him alive until his immune system gets on top of the problem. You can keep him hydrated, keep his electrolytes balanced, keep his intracranial pressure down, put him on dialysis if his kidneys fail, etc etc. We’ve even saved a few cases of rabies using this approach.

      Too bad nobody has ever heard of these techniques.

      You know, I bet there would be a market for some kind of television show about doctors! You could even have one based on me: irritable, politically incorrect, even misanthropic at times, but often right.

      • JayMan says:

        @gcochran9:

        I predict such a show will be a hit and will run for 8 seasons. It would make it to 9, but I think it’ll get too expensive. 😉

      • Diana says:

        Get a Youtube channel. Screw Hollywood.

      • Old fogey says:

        Many thanks for the reply. I am glad to hear that medical science can help in the recovery from an ebola infection. Another question – what can we do to strengthen our immune systems?

        I agree that a straightforward and politically incorrect program based on how doctors work (or, even better, should work) would be an immediate hit.

      • Ebola Chan says:

        This looks both labor and resource intensive. How many such patients could a hospital support? I read that dialysis is necessary in some cases, is that something that can be done in a secure space, or would someone with Obola be wheeled down the hall every day, past many other rooms? What if 100 patients present in the course of three weeks to a metro hospital requiring such treatment, can that be sustained? What of smaller hosptials in cities of 500,000 or 100,000, how many such patients can they sustain? Suppose that one or two people on the nursing staff in each hospital contract it as the Spanish nurse did, will that have any effect on the delivery of this level of care?

        I wonder why the CDC’s position on a travel ban from West Africa is so odd. Would it really make the spread of disease worse to quarantine certain countries?

    • Richard Sharpe says:

      drink plenty of water

      The problem seems to be that with your GI tract messed up you have a hard time absorbing any of that water.

      However, that might just be speculation on my part.

      • karch_buttreau says:

        Well, diarrhea is one of its symptoms, so drinking a lot of water would be important. Probably the highest risk place for a caretaker of an Ebola patient is near the toilet. Flushing aerosolizes the stuff that’s in the toilet… That wouldn’t be unique to Ebola, though.

        • Anonymous says:

          However, vomiting is one of its symptoms, so you may not be able to get much of that water to your body. And since diarrhea is also one of its symptoms that suggests that your LI is failing to absorb water.

          So, all around, it seems like you are going to have a hard time avoiding dehydration and would have to get fluids intravenously.

          However, clearly, some (small) percentage of people who contract it do survive.

  20. Greying Wanderer says:

    @Mark P

    “Also, based on the assumptions about Ebola expressed by many commenters, it’s fairly clear that about 90 percent of the folks posting here — on a blog about HBD and, thus, about genetics and molecular biology — wouldn’t know what an envelope glycoprotein precursor was if it bit them in the face, and in general know nothing about molecular biology.”

    You may have missed it but the main thrust of most of the comments on the thread is not how dangerous a particular disease might be on its own but how dangerous it might be if there were any factors related to the disease which might lead to TPTB weaponizing it themselves as a result of PC considerations. I’m pretty sure the Russian bioweapon research you mentioned assumed TPTB in the US would respond sensibly to an Ebola outbreak. If they did the research again now but based on the response to AIDS they might reach a different conclusion.

  21. STALIN says:

    Let’s see. 1. Ebola spreads to all sub-Saharan Africa and wipes out 90% of population. 2. It doesn’t and there are +4 billion Africans in 2100. Pick one.

  22. Toddy Cat says:

    “I suppose a lot of you are here for the racism, therefore. You’re amusing, at least.”

    Well, that puts us at least one up on you.

  23. Sandgroper says:

    It was interesting to map the fatality rate among the Maori. They were hit pretty hard, as you’d expect, but fatality rates were much higher in some areas than others.

    Curiously, it’s difficult to get any really reliable Aborioginal data. They should have been really clobbered, but distance and low population densities might have spared them somewhat.

    • Diana says:

      SG, I don’t think that the 1918 flu affected populations with respect to ethnicity because it was a new virus. This was not something that had lurked around for ever allowing certain pops. to adapt. The weird thing about it was that it killed people with strong immune systems because part of its trickiness was to bring about a hyper immune response while disabling others. And I believe that is the way Ebola works although they are two totally different virus types.

      • Diana says:

        PS to above. Japan did a good job as well: “In Japan, 257,363 deaths were attributed to influenza by July 1919, giving an estimated 0.425% mortality rate, much lower than nearly all other Asian countries for which data are available. The Japanese government severely restricted maritime travel to and from the home islands when the pandemic struck.”

        Remind me, what are flights from the EV bringing us that we can’t do without?

  24. Richard Sharpe says:

    However, aside from such strategies — in which, essentially, Ebola becomes no longer a classical agent — because of the virus’s architecture and because when humans becomes its host population it burns through victims far too fast and spectacularly, the virus is a textbook example of how a spectacularly lethal pathogen can be fairly useless in terms of creating an epidemic in any developed nation

    And yet, someone was able to get infected in West Africa, travel to the US and possibly infect people here before symptoms became obvious, and it is easy for people to travel great distances around the US in a short time.

    Sure, a hundred years ago or so in Africa, I can imagine it dying out as soon as it infects someone in a village.

    Today, maybe not.

  25. Spanish Influenza, Spanish Nurse Ebola?

  26. The fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:

    Enterovirus D-68 seems to have some characteristics similar to Polio … Is it just a coincidence that it arrives around the same time as lots of illegals?

  27. IC says:

    “Doctors were useless, but nurses were not.”

    At the same time

    If some one suffered a fever during this time, is he a patient of epidemic or cold?

    Some do suffer from epidemic. How to prevent it progess into pneumonia with correct diagnostic signs?

    Some one actually suffer from different fever diseas (like new onset of leukemia, scarlet fever, common pneumonia, meningitis, toxic dysentrery, malaria, ect) need correct diagnosis with treatment

    Here you have

    “Nurses were useless, but doctors were not.”

    • gcochran9 says:

      Doctors could treat malaria, in 1918. But they had no useful therapies for anything else on the your list. Now I know that they don’t teach much about the history of medicine in med school, because it’s so embarrassing, but they haven’t managed to ban books on it. You could try reading one.

      • IC says:

        Well, old medicine looks like voodoo now.

        I am pretty sure that today’s medicine looks like voodoo in future.

        • karch_buttreau says:

          Voodoo? I think that modern medicine will look like magic to those in the future. Today we have antibiotics that still work (sorta)… You can’t even have basic surgery or even a compound fracture without antibiotics. You probably can’t even get your wisdom teeth taken out without antibiotics (in general).

      • BB753 says:

        What, no link to your excellent Takimag article, Dr. Cochran?

  28. Richard Sharpe says:

    I think that Greg pointed out quite a while ago that pathogens tend to evolve towards lower mortality rates because that helps ensure survival of the organism.

    That suggests that we can expect many more fatalities as a version evolves that is not as fatal as the earlier strains were (near 90% fatality).

    30% fatality with a longer incubation period or a long transmissability period would help the virus but would be pretty damn serious.

    Eventually it would be no more fatal than Influenza, but it would seem that there is a long way to go before we get there.

    Any comments on the likelihood of this occurring?

    • The fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:

      Isn’t that the wrong question? Surely, the question to ask is:

      How many people need to die before Ebola learns to play nice with humans?

    • Sean says:

      It evolved in Africa and may be less lethal in whites

      • ursiform says:

        Why? It “may be” lots of things, but why suppose this one?

      • The fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:

        It seems more likely that since some populations have had longer selection in larger concentrations of people and the sorts of diseased that result that such populations might have a larger percentage of people with better defenses.

        Who knows. Maybe we will get an opportunity to find out right here in the US.

  29. Grumpy says:

    Svante Pääbo’s lecture today at the Nobel Conference:

    “Of Neanderthals, Denisovans, and Modern Humans”

  30. Cloudswrest says:

    Have there been any surveys done on racial susceptibility to Ebola? I haven’t been able to find anything on the web. From the limited anecdotal news reports I’ve seen it seems the majority of whites/Europeans who’ve contracted it have survived, and the majority of blacks have died, including the Dallas patient, who received medical care almost from the start.

    • Sean says:

      Historically, west Africa is the most unhealthy inhabited place on earth. Some people think one of the reasons that west Africans are so black is because melanin acts as a barrier to infection and Africans have low resistance to infectious disease due to higher testosterone (which is hypothesised to suppress the immune system. Black Africans are black on parts of their body which are never exposed to the sun (other people are not) and their skin is particularly thick in one layer.

    • Greying Wanderer says:

      If there is any immunity or resistance I’d have thought the people with the most ancestral connection to West Africa would have the most and the people with the least connection to West Africa would have the least but that may be being obscured by different levels of medical provision. It might be that if it gets out of Africa people catch it easier and thus it spreads much faster.

      (or it makes people sicker faster and thus spreads less)

      On the other hand if there’s any immunity it might just be people with recent ancestry in very specific parts of west central Africa.

      (Or if it partially involves sexual transmission that will be different also.)

      If it is especially virulent among non-Africans but that is being masked by relative levels of medical provision then we’ll find out if/when it gets into the poorest segments of countries nearby e.g. Egypt, India etc.

      Then again – what’s up with all the Chinese working there? Are they not getting it – are Chinese workers kept strictly separate? – or are the Chinese govt. keeping quiet about it?

  31. Pingback: Ebola Breaks a Border-Free World

  32. Ebola Chan says:

    Firestone rubber plantation seems to be holding out OK. The secret appears to be careful use of hazmat suits and early quarantine of all suspected cases. I doubt they are allowing the whole rest of the area to move in, either.

    But that can’t be right. Quarantine can’t work. Just ask the head of the CDC.

  33. Pingback: A World of Expanding Threats Requires Private Government to be Resilient | More Right

  34. Ebola Chan says:

    Dr. Cochrane, your opinion of this Obola IQ Test ?

  35. Pingback: Globalist Gibberish from CDC Chief on Travel Ban | Trip-adviser.net

  36. Ebola Chan says:

    Would some of the really super smart people like Anonymous please explain this to us stupids?

    Texas health care worker tests positive for Obola

    First we were told Obola wouldn’t spread in the first world. Then a nurse in Spain caught Obola from a dying priest. Then we were told Obola wouldn’t spread in the US. Now we have a Dallas health care worker who was gowned, masked, gloved, etc. who tests positive for Obola.

    So far every smart guy prediction has been proven wrong. So you smart guys explain this, if you have the courage of your claims.

    How did a trained Dallas worker in full protective gear catch Obola from Patient Zero? How?

    Oh, and…do you love me?

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