August 5, 2014

I’M CONCERNED THAT WE DON’T SEEM TO KNOW WHY THIS OUTBREAK IS SO MUCH WORSE THAN IN THE PAST: Ebola outbreak could be much worse than thought. My worry is that this strain is more contagious, somehow. Perhaps more prone to spreading through airborne droplets? Or simply less lethal, giving people more time to spread it?

Some related thoughts here and here. “Ebola is a terrible disease. It kills many that it infects. It *can* spread fairly rapidly when precautions are not carefully adhered to: when cultural practices such as ritual washing of bodies are continued despite warnings, or when needles are reused because of a lack of medical supplies, or when gloves and other protective gear are not available, or when patients are sharing beds because they are brought to hospitals lacking even such basics as enough beds or clean bedding for patients. But if all you know of Ebola is from The Hot Zone or Outbreak, well, that’s not really what Ebola looks like. . . . I’m not saying there is zero chance of something going wrong. But it is low. As an infectious disease specialist (and one with an extreme interest in Ebola), I’m way more concerned about influenza or measles many other ‘ordinary’ viruses than I am about Ebola. Ebola is exotic and its symptoms can be terrifying, but also much easier to contain by people who know their stuff.”