Saturday, October 18, 2014

Some researchers at Universities of Minnesota and Illinois note that Ebola might be spread by air for very short distances (CNN); more concerns about incubation

A site called “Opposing Views” (there is also a book series by this name, in my Book reviews blog, Sept. 19, 2006) ran an article reporting work from the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) indicating that Ebola might actually be spread through the air for very short distances and might actually produce infection through the lungs as well as in breaches in the skin, mouth or other external surfaces.  The CIDRAP report is here  and the Opposing Views article is here.  Lisa Brousseau, from the University of Illinois at Chicago, spoke about this study Saturday morning on CNN.  She said that in Stage 4 containment centers, health care workers wear respirators;  surgical masks are not sufficient. She also indicated some of the data came from West Africa.


The other concern is what happens with very small Ebola exposures.  There is a concern that the virus can “hide” for a while inside monocytes or certain blood cells.  Does the person overcome the virus naturally without illness or very minimal symptoms and become immune (as is common for garden variety infectious disease)?  Could the virus hide for months and we don’t realize this yet?  Could we have unexplained "crash" cases months from now? 

CNN has a new link, "The most outrageous statements about Ebola," here

Update:  Oct. 19

What happens with passengers who had flown from Cleveland to Dallas on Monday, Oct. 13 but who live in Cleveland and need to return home.  Are they kept from flying back?  Who pays for this?  Important policy and legal question.  This could happen to me with a later situation. 

Update: Oct. 20

There is some analysis claiming that the incubation period for Ebola behaves asymptotically, with possibly 5% of cases occurring after 21 days, because they had started with low exposures.  The link (quoting a WHO study) is here.  It refers to a WHO study.  CNN reported it today, but has softpedaled it.  Thoretically, those already released in Dallas could be re-quarantined if this report held up.  It could also mean, theoretically, that people could be trapped out of town for 42 days, in the worst case scenarios.  Again, who pays for it?   The link for the story is here
I think we need to be more reasonable, though, about extremely casual exposures, which really have no chance of transmission.  Most of those under observation had trivial exposures with no chance of illness.  That would be true of the bridal shop in Ohio.   
We really need a different kind of test, that could detect infected monocytes by some kind of external molecular negativity before there are symptoms.  We need to be able to test an clear people within 72 hours of very incidental exposure.  Is some sort of "Andraka Test" for early testing based on electronegativity concepts possible?  

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