Yesterday, CDC director Thomas Frieden made this assessment of the current Ebola epidemic:
“I’ve been working in public health for 30 years,” Frieden told a World Bank and International Monetary Fund meeting in Washington.
“The only thing like this has been AIDS. And we have to work now so that this is not the world’s next AIDS,” Frieden said.
The AIDS pandemic started in Africa in the 1980s and has killed 36 million people. It took more than a decade to develop effective treatments to cut the death rate and even longer to erase the stigma associated with AIDS.
The current Ebola epidemic — a first of its kind in world history — has killed nearly 4,000 people since last year and shows little sign of abating in three West African countries.
Frieden isn’t a stupid man but this statement is either a blatant appeal for money or one of the more bizarre statements ever made by anyone in CDC, and that covers a lot of waterfront.
The statement flies in the face of everything known about Ebola, including the information Frieden, himself, has put out over the past couple of weeks and the comparison to AIDS, in any way other than a calculated attempt to headline-whore, is dishonest.
The Guardian recently did a very good piece on Ebola but there are a few take-aways in it which show why Ebola only flourishes in Third World crapholes. People infected with Ebola only become contagious once they show symptoms, they are not contagious during the incubation phase. Contrast this, for instance, with a virus like herpes which is infectious during a viral “shedding” phase before any actual symptoms are visible or HIV which is contagious but asymptomatic for years. Unfortunately for the person infected, but fortunately for the rest of us, the symptoms are fairly spectacular. The symptoms make the victim easily identifiable and it reduces their mobility. Consider, the ambulance crew that transported the Dallas patient to the hospital were not infected. Neither were his family in the apartment shared with him.
This is not to say that Ebola isn’t dangerous but the nature of the virus, it can only survive outside a host for matter of hours, the means of transmission, and the vivid nature of the symptoms all make it fairly easy to manage in any nation with a functioning public health system. The real work in Dallas was borne by the …read more