This morning (15 October) it was announced that a second health care worker at the Texas hospital where an ebola patient died has ‘tested positive’ for it. If ebola can spread in a hospital environment where presumably precautions were taken, once it gets out into the populace at large it can spread much faster. This had to be human to human transmission — no other animal vector is involved (as it probably is in Africa).
How does it spread? We don’t know, but the two Texas cases probably imply that airborne spread is possible.
What to do?
In our case it means not getting into a confined space with over 100 people we don’t know from all over the world for an 8 – 16 hour period (e.g. an international flight). Have you ever been on a flight where no one had a cold?
For the USA, it should mean banning all flights from endemic countries. This has been the case in the past. My cousin’s wife has a lot of relatives in Brazil, because the people on the boat had lots of pink eye, and the boat was simply turned away over 100 years ago.
It should mean caring for Ebola patients in specialized facilities where only they are cared for –e.g. not in a general hospital since we don’t know how it spreads.
The greatest way to spread the disease (the Hajj — millions of people from all over the world crowded together for days followed by worldwide dispersal) has mercifully just ended before the disease escaped Africa to any extent.
Will ISIS or Al-Qaeda try to bring Ebola to the USA? Of course.
We live in a society where children have supervised play dates, and where walking unattended to school is almost considered child abuse. What will happen to such a risk-averse society when there is actual risk to going out to (the mall, the school, to work)?