Ebola: Six Reasons to Panic
Here is the recap on why you should be afraid.
1. It may spread on aerosol particles.
2. It’s infecting almost 2 people for every person that catches the virus.
3. What’s stopping a terrorist from getting Ebola and vomiting in a subway?
4. Worse case computer models show 1,367,000 cases in Libera alone.
5. If the virus leaks out of Libera at this level society will breakdown.
6. Politics will get ugly.
(1) Last month, the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy published an article arguing that the current Ebola has “unclear modes of transmission” and that “there is scientific and epidemiologic evidence that Ebola virus has the potential to be transmitted via infectious aerosol particles both near and at a distance from infected patients, which means that healthcare workers should be wearing respirators, not facemasks.”
(2) General infection rates are terrifying, too. In epidemiology, you measure the “R0,” or “reproduction number” of a virus; that is, how many new infections each infected person causes. When R0 is greater than 1, the virus is spreading through a population. When it’s below 1, the contamination is receding. In September the World Health Organization’s Ebola Response Team estimated the R0 to be at 1.71 in Guinea and 2.02 in Sierra Leone.
(3) Do you really want to be scared? What’s to stop a jihadist from going to Liberia, getting himself infected, and then flying to New York and riding the subway until he keels over? This is just the biological warfare version of a suicide bomb. Can you imagine the consequences if someone with Ebola vomited in a New York City subway car?
(4) The worst-case scenario envisioned by the model is anywhere from 537,000 to 1,367,000 cases by January. Just in Liberia. With the fever still raging out of control.
(5) And by the way, things could get worse. All of those worst-case projections assume that the virus stays contained in a relatively small area of West Africa, which, with a million people infected, would be highly unlikely. What happens if and when the virus starts leaking out to other parts of the world?
(6) While we’re on the subject of political crisis, it’s worth noting that the politics of Ebola are uncertain and dangerous to everyone involved.