Ebola and fragility

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jacob
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Ebola and fragility

Post by jacob » Thu Oct 02, 2014 3:04 pm

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-10-0 ... ntifragile

So just how antifragile are we? I think the biggest fragility is the fact that most people still go to work/school/shopping on a very frequent basis and interact with people that aren't just local.

I haven't done much beyond just ordering about 30 days worth of water storage containers. This may seem like an over or underreaction in retrospect but obviously my previous plan of disinfecting lake water won't work in this scenario.

In any case, one might hope that the US health care system is at least as effective as the Nigerian one where under very similar circumstances, a person who was likely to be infected managed to board an airplane, but where identified as patient zero quickly thus allowing the authorities to track down all the potential vectors.

Of other concerns are some suggestions that the underlying official assumptions are not.. uhh.. entirely correct. Specifically,

1) It is certainly not true that symptoms = ebola and no symptoms = no ebola. Ebola exists if the virus has made it into a cell and started multiplying. The virus can then start to spread to other cells and outside the body. Presumably the symptoms appear gradually and later. In other words, infectiousness happens on a graduated scale.

2) Ebola has been transmitted over the air in a laboratory setting between lab animals. Airborne transmission hasn't been observed between humans. However, we know it can happen. One gotta wonder why so many health care workers get infected. Are they simply sloppy (pictures suggest some are, e.g. working w/o gloves)? If it's transmitted via air, masks are insufficient to prevent it.

Incorrect assumptions associated with exponential behaviour is a recipe for almost any crash regardless of subject matter. Do we have incorrect assumptions here? Possibly. Do we have exponential behaviour? Definitely!

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Re: Ebola and fragility

Post by chicago81 » Thu Oct 02, 2014 3:26 pm

As someone living in one of the largest cities in the United States, I am very concerned about ebola. The CDC has said that people infected with ebola are only contagious when they are exhibiting symptoms. However, the early symptoms of ebola are very similar to many other illnesses, such as the flu. Someone could easily be infected without knowing it, cough into their hands, and then grab a hand-rail on a city bus or train. Then an untold number of people could touch the same hand-rail. Truly a nightmare scenario. I'm not sure I believe that this can "easily" be contained in the United States. It is taking a huge effort to track down and monitor all the people that the Dallas patient came in contact with. If it even spread to only a handful of people, the amount of people to track down becomes insurmountable in a very short amount of time. Uugh.

I think air travel from the affected countries should have been shut down as soon as the virus began to spread out of control in Africa. I even sent an email to President Obama (doubt "he" really even saw it) stating this several months ago. This is one instance where I really truly do not want to be able to say "I told you so." Stopping air travel from the affection regions is not fool-proof, but it certainly would help minimize the spread.

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Re: Ebola and fragility

Post by workathome » Thu Oct 02, 2014 3:31 pm

3M respirators, gloves, and some bleach spray bottles might be nice. If not airborne, good sanitation should help.

But yeah, I think a scary threat could be supply-chain dominos. Water and food is nice to have at home.

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Re: Ebola and fragility

Post by Chad » Thu Oct 02, 2014 5:30 pm

jacob wrote:http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-10-0 ... ntifragile

So just how antifragile are we? I think the biggest fragility is the fact that most people still go to work/school/shopping on a very frequent basis and interact with people that aren't just local.
Well, we will probably get to see now.

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Re: Ebola and fragility

Post by Dragline » Thu Oct 02, 2014 7:24 pm

I guess I'm still pretty jaded about the promise or threat of apocalyptic epidemics in developed countries. I remember going all the way back to 1976 (swine flu will kill millions!) about over- and knee-jerk reactions.

Still, I agree it would be better to be safe than sorry, since this apparently may be an airborne contagion. I'd like some verification of that, though. And a concerted effort to develop a vaccine without unnecessary drama.

I don't trust either the media or the CDC to describe the risks accurately. They will be both vastly over- and under-estimated. Fear sells commercial time and burnishes reputations of otherwise obscure people, which tends to fan the flames.

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Re: Ebola and fragility

Post by JL13 » Thu Oct 02, 2014 7:56 pm

Why would you need to store water? Why would a viral outbreak damage water pipes? Is it in anticipation of it being transmitted through drinking water? If how how would you know when to fill up your containers?

Food I get. Water I'm not sure I understand.

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Re: Ebola and fragility

Post by Ego » Thu Oct 02, 2014 8:17 pm

Dragline wrote:I don't trust either the media or the CDC to describe the risks accurately. They will be both vastly over- and under-estimated. Fear sells commercial time and burnishes reputations of otherwise obscure people, which tends to fan the flames.
Yes! It is wise to recognize the worst case scenario, to know it exists and acknowledge it. It is foolish to allow it to terrify you. There are whole industries that are licking their advertising chops for the fear this scare-machine is throwing off.

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Re: Ebola and fragility

Post by Riggerjack » Thu Oct 02, 2014 8:38 pm

My main concern is that this happened in Texas. Not that I have a low opinion of Texans, unless I've been drinking...

It is more that I think the US can stop this, but I don't think mexico can, and if it goes pandemic in Mexico, we won't be able to stop it here.

I have masks and gloves on hand, as they are handy for crafts/construction, and good cost/space prep for disaster. Strangely, I just picked up 6 gallons of bleach for well sterilization, buy haven't used it...

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Re: Ebola and fragility

Post by Dragline » Thu Oct 02, 2014 9:41 pm

This is kind of what I was talking about in the main on the fear issue:

http://www.oftwominds.com/blogoct14/fear10-14.html

Except I don't exclude "monsters under the bed, the Ebola virus and fanatical terrorists bent on our destruction". I think the fact that we are so safe breeds irrational fears by people looking for something to concern themselves with (Purpose motive).

The idea that a pandemic in Mexico necessarily affects the US is not something I'd subscribe to, anymore than the more recent cases of swine/bird/pterodactyl flu from that region. But bleach is cheap -- ain't nuthin' wrong with that, and I have to confess I live nowhere near that border.

At this point I think the enterovirus is more dangerous to more people in the US than Ebola. People have died here from that already, and hundreds if not thousands being hospitalized -- so why aren't the carriers being quarantined? Not sensational enough for the media and public perception is my guess. Nobody gets famous or sells air time with the common but deadly. But strange things from furrin lands -- now that's a story! We can round people up and start the blame game for that!

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Re: Ebola and fragility

Post by SilverElephant » Fri Oct 03, 2014 2:59 am

From Germany's perspective, people are reminded of the swine flu paranoia back in 2009? 2010? When, shortly after the bird flu was dramatized in the media, the swine flu was dramatized in the media, and the German government decided to purchase swine flu shots, where

1) Some pharmaceutical companies made a killing for shots that were paid for with public money. not really tested and have now expired
2) It transpired that the army and members of the government would receive a different vaccination than the general public (supposedly more effective, but more dangerous)

I'm under the impression that, whenever there's a mass media hype about some potential pandemic now, people just shrug.

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Re: Ebola and fragility

Post by steveo73 » Fri Oct 03, 2014 3:08 am

SilverElephant wrote:I'm under the impression that, whenever there's a mass media hype about some potential pandemic now, people just shrug.
I do as well. I figure my and my families health is so important but I think that most of this is under my control via exercising and eating well.

Pandemics are something I view as being outside of my control.

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Re: Ebola and fragility

Post by jennypenny » Fri Oct 03, 2014 5:50 am

@J_L13--One reason to store water in this situation is in case municipal services are interrupted by large absences. You don't even need a large-scale or deadly outbreak. You just need a large enough outbreak of illness (even a regular flu) or the fear of something worse to scare people into skipping work.

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Re: Ebola and fragility

Post by jennypenny » Fri Oct 03, 2014 9:24 am

I'm not paranoid about ebola yet. I'm more concerned about enterovirus-68. (Our pulmonologist mailed us gloves and masks that they want us to put on before we enter the hospital because they suspect they’ve had cases.) What I think is obvious now is that there isn't really an overall plan for dealing with something like this. Our borders are too porous--both physical borders and virtual borders like in airports--to stop any contagion. We don’t even take the simplest steps like checking everyone with a non-contact thermometer when entering airports, schools, or hospitals until something has spread beyond any hope of containment.

I also don't think the public is knowledgeable enough about disease transmission to know what behaviors are risky or what measures to take in their own lives to prevent the spread of communicable diseases. People know less about taking care of their health than they do about taking care of their finances. This lack of knowledge also extends to people who work at front-line jobs like the TSA. Telling people to watch out for people who ‘look sick’ isn’t a plan! Someone with horrible seasonal allergies might look sick, but the person next to them with no symptoms other than a 102 fever is the real danger to the public.

As far as antifragility, it wouldn’t take a full-fledged pandemic to bring life to a standstill in affected areas. Just the threat of contracting the disease might keep large numbers of workers home. How bad would things get with only half of the number of deliveries to resupply grocery stores, gas stations, pharmacies, and ATM machines? Or half of the normal number of garbage pickups, snow removals, public transit workers, EMT drivers or police? An outbreak that affected only 10% of the population but scared another 40% into staying home would have a devastating effect. Those absentee numbers wouldn’t just be borne out of panic and fear-mongering, either. Anyone suffering from or living with a person with a chronic condition or compromised immune system, or even just an infant or elderly person, might be well-advised to stay home to protect their loved ones.

I work very hard to keep my house prepped and my family healthy. We have a firm set of procedures in place. That said, my boys go to school and my husband travels for his job and spends half of his time at the Pentagon with 20.000 other people. There is no way for us to be completely safe without everyone staying home for the duration of any event. Having crossed the ERE threshold, we could all withdraw from public life if necessary, but I’m not sure how practical that is or if we’d end up waiting too long to do so. We might do what we can, but I think most of us are fragile when it comes to stuff like this.

Btw … The best estimate I’ve been given is that information disseminated to the public is about two weeks old. In this or any similar situation, if you project the worst case scenario out two weeks and prepare for that, you have a chance at keeping up with whatever the threat is.

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Re: Ebola and fragility

Post by jacob » Fri Oct 03, 2014 10:18 am

@Dragline - http://www.nature.com/srep/2012/121115/ ... 00811.html ... airborne from pigs to monkeys. In terms of estimating, the official West African numbers are theoretically underestimated by a factor 2.5. This comes from comparing how many beds should be in use according to the epidemic models and how many are actually reported to be in use by the people on the ground.

@J_L13 - I hedge my bets more systemically. Water does not have anything directly to do with an epidemic. However, if e.g. 5 cases popped up in Chicago I would be one of the 40% that jp says might stay at home. Now suppose a water pipe burst under my street. I could now just go and get my water from storage. Think of normal accident theory for tightly engineered system. What causes the total failure is typically not a single point of failure but rather a cascading series of backup and safety systems that fail. In general, water is very tightly engineered into most people's lives. We take its existence completely for granted.

@all - I would expect the US (and Mexico) to be able to handle single cases at least as well as Nigeria. If ebola becomes endemic to West Africa, having cases pop up here and there would be considered the normal cost of doing business. Much like we accept people dying from the flu, cars, guns, obesity, ... without much worry.

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Re: Ebola and fragility

Post by Riggerjack » Fri Oct 03, 2014 10:45 am

Um, so you think Nigeria has a handle on this?
The difference between viruses and death by obesity, is the exponential growth. A hundred people dying from snake bites is no concern of mine. 100 cases of viral death is a different story.
That being said, this is an easy thing to do minor prep for. Masks, gloves, bleach. All things I have on hand, anyway.

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Re: Ebola and fragility

Post by jacob » Fri Oct 03, 2014 11:41 am

@Riggerjack - They managed to contain the outbreak resulting from the "escaping" diplomat: 20 cases/8 dead. No new cases for over a month.

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Re: Ebola and fragility

Post by Riggerjack » Fri Oct 03, 2014 1:15 pm

Well, truth be told, I haven't read anything about Ebola since those 2 healthcare workers flew back. Then the case in Dallas.

My point was that containing a single case is a whole different kettle of fish than containing many, separate cases. And should it get loose in Mexico, I see no way to stop it at the border.

But, again, defense on an individual level is fairly easy to accomplish.

I don't consider myself a prepper, but 50 bucks and a few cubic feet of storage seems like reasonable insurance.

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Re: Ebola and fragility

Post by jennypenny » Fri Oct 03, 2014 3:25 pm

CNN article: Ebola in the air? A nightmare that could happen


The source info for the article from the Virology Blog

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Re: Ebola and fragility

Post by jacob » Fri Oct 03, 2014 3:37 pm

"As of October 1, there have been more than 7,100 cases of Ebola, with 3,330 deaths, according to the World Health Organization, which has said the virus is spreading at a much faster rate than it was earlier in the outbreak."

I wonder how they define "earlier". I calculate a running growth rate for each new update and it seems the growth rate has been slowing down over the last few updates (since last week). Doubling time has gone from 20 days to 40 days.

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Re: Ebola and fragility

Post by jennypenny » Fri Oct 03, 2014 3:45 pm

jacob wrote:I wonder how they define "earlier". I calculate a running growth rate for each new update and it seems the growth rate has been slowing down over the last few updates (since last week). Doubling time has gone from 20 days to 40 days.
http://www.who.int/csr/disease/ebola/si ... eports/en/
https://extranet.who.int/ebola/#


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