Paul Revere by Cyrus Dallin, North End, Boston




Nigeria has been declared officially free of Ebola after six weeks with no new cases, the World Health Organization (WHO) says.

According to the BBC, the Spanish nurse who was the first person to contract Ebola outside of West Africa has tested negative for the virus (a second test is required before she’ll be officially free of the disease). And the United States has reached an important milestone: the 21-day monitoring period for the 48 people who had contact with Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man who died of Ebola in Dallas, ended on Sunday and Monday. Aside from the two nurses who cared for him, there have been no new infections.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Monday, October 20, 2014

What You Won't Read on the Hysterical Right About Ebola


The shameful politicization of Ebola by the right continues with politicians blaming President Obama for their refusal to confirm his Surgeon General nominee, and the rightwing pundits and bloggers spooking themselves and their followers with predictions of certain death for millions of Americans. The reality, of course, is nowhere near their ridiculous Chicken Little squawkings.

Here is that reality from Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo:

Today's Very Good News on Ebola - That You Probably Haven't Heard

"...[As of] October 19th, the last day of the quarantine for the family members who were living with Duncan just before he was hospitalized. I don't know precisely when today public health authorities will end the quarantine or precisely how they will handle it. But as far as we know, according to news reports as recently as yesterday, none of the family members have shown any symptoms of the disease. So we can now say close to definitively that none of them contracted Ebola even though they were living with him in close quarters as he entered the infectious period. So what does this mean? Obviously it's good news for the family members. But it is also good news generally because of what it tells us - or rather confirms for us - about the disease we are dealing with. It is a horrific disease. But prior to the end stage when victims have profuse diarrhea, vomiting and bleeding with extremely high viral loads of the contagion, it is not that easy to transmit."


"... why did two nurses come down with it? It now seems that hospital staff were given contradictory and insufficient guidance on how to protect themselves, were not given access to the proper protective gear and much more. It was literally and figuratively a mess - a failure on the part of the hospital (which the two nurses will hopefully not pay too high a price for) but also a warning that your average US hospital was simply not prepared to deal with the mix of confusion, uncertainty and lack of familiarity with basic protocols that were virtually inevitable with the first 'walk-in' case of Ebola anywhere in the industrialized world. 

 Luckily, though, procedures in hospital settings can be tightened, changed - the contagiousness of Ebola 'in the wild', out in society in the early stages of the disease - can't be. This evidence tends to confirm that it does not move rapidly or that efficiently. The CDC has already created a rapid response team that will go to a hospital as soon as the presence of an Ebola patient is reasonably suspected, to make sure correct protocols are being followed. That clearly should have been thought of and put in place before. It wasn't. But now it has."

From Forbes:

"...the United States’ built-in defenses are stronger than this infection. Every Ebola patient on American soil – there are four – was infected either in Liberia or Sierra Leone or because they were treating Thomas Duncan, the Liberian patient in Dallas. Even though that nurse traveled on a plane, it’s entirely possible—and likely –that she did not infect a single person on that plane. Health officials still have plenty of opportunity to keep the virus from spreading here in the United States. And even if more people do come to the U.S. while infected with Ebola and develop symptoms here, it will still be their family members and the healthcare workers who care for them who will be at risk, not the population at large.

Despite the closure of schools in Ohio and Texas because students or staff members were on the plane with that nurse, despite the fact that people all over the country are suddenly becoming nervous about flying, your risk of catching Ebola is still far less than your risk of dying from the flu, which killed 53,667 Americans in 2010. In fact, if you’re not a healthcare worker treating an Ebola patient, it’s probably zero. The news that a potentially exposed health care worker who had gone on a cruise ship was, in fact, not infected should drive this fact home. 

 'This is not influenza or measles,' says Paul Offit, the Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. 'It’s not spread by the respiratory route. If you’re sitting next to someone on a plane, you’re not going to catch it. People should take note of the fact that Duncan’s family never got sick.' 

 How do we know that this virus can be corralled and controlled? Here’s a one-word answer: Nigeria."


Why do politicians, pundits and bloggers on the right continue to spread fear and misunderstanding about Ebola?  


If you're getting your information only from those sources, it is no wonder you're hiding under your bed.


Senator Ted Cruz (Bat-Shyte-Crazy-TX) intoned on one of the Sunday morning news shows: 

"CANDY CROWLEY: Do you think it would have helped … had there been a surgeon general in place to kind of calm what has become the fear of Ebola? 

 CRUZ: Look – look, of course we should have a surgeon general in place. And we don’t have one because President Obama, instead of nominating a health professional, he nominated someone who is an anti- gun activist. 

To hear the Texas Republican tell it, Dr. Vivek Murthy isn’t even a “health professional,” which is the exact opposite of reality. Outside of far-right politics, the facts are not in dispute.

Murthy is an attending physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and an instructor at Harvard Medical School. He’s also the founder of TrialNetworks, an Internet portal for clinical-trial operations that counts Merck and Biogen Idec as customers. 

Earlier, he helped start a rural community health program in Sringeri, India, and an HIV/AIDS youth education program in India and the United States. He went to Harvard for his undergraduate degree and Yale for medical and business degrees."

Dr. Murthy's anti-gun activity?  He would like pediatricians to be able to ask parents if they own guns and if they keep those guns safely locked away from toddlers and children so that they don't accidently shoot and kill their siblings or anyone else.  

That is the definition of "anti-gun activism" in Senator Cruz's mangled mind.  

Cruz is a miserable blight on American politics.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sunday at the Movies

Here's a Fellini gem, Toby Dammit.

Spookier than any Halloween movie (or any Hollywood movie) you've ever seen. 

Only 40 minutes long.  Enjoy.