Common-sense emergency preparedness from a combat veteran

The threat you face from Ebola and what you can do about it (Updated)

The world news is on fire with reports of infections and death from the Ebola virus, and victims are being brought to the US. What do you need to know? - http://graywolfsurvival.com/3705/ebola-pandemic-threat-preparation/So we’ve been hearing a LOT about this Ebola thing for a while now, and every day, it seems like the problem escalates. How worried should you really be? What can you do about it? What should you be doing now?

James wrote an article several days ago about this topic called Ebola fear grips the world – here’s why you don’t need to freak out. I’ve been watching the news and reading sites about it but I never really sat down and looked at the problem until now. I wasn’t going to cover it at all except I think I need to put another perspective into what was already written.

Not to say that James is wrong in what he said, because he’s not. I just think that there’s a lot more information that you need to know to make an informed decision – and I do think that it’s about time you took some common-sense precautions. If the world gets its act together in West Africa and gets this thing under control then the worst case is that you know a little bit more about pandemics and you have some preparations in place that you could use for other emergencies if they come up. If they don’t get it under control, then you’ll be better-prepared to deal with it.

One of the things that I’ve done around the world for the US Government is what’s called a Threat Vulnerability Assessment, or TVA for short. It’s a realistic analysis of what personnel could be facing in likely scenarios as well as worst-case scenarios. It’s something that the embassy or combatant commanders can pull out on a given facility that outlines things like the threat of terrorist threat, criminal threat, and medical threat.

To generalize things, it looks at at the relevant threats to the facility, looks at the vulnerabilities that the facility has to those threats, and suggests courses of action to reduce the risks of those threats. That’s what I’m gonna do here. We’re gonna look at the threat of Ebola and what you can do to mitigate that threat to your family.

I do believe that this has the possibility to become a credible threat, but I also believe that you can do a LOT to mitigate this threat. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that I don’t get all in a huff about things very much – even things that I believe are likely to happen in the near future. I think this one though is important enough that I sit down and explain it so you know what the world is facing and what you can do about it.

First, let’s answer the question about the threat. The threat in question is the Ebola virus that’s exploded recently in West Africa.

Recent Updates on the Ebola virus

Here are a few updates since this article was first posted, along with a quote from each:

Death toll passes 1,550 as Ebola outbreak accelerates, officials say – Aug 28

The total number of cases stands at 3,069, with 40% occurring in the past three weeks. “However, most cases are concentrated in only a few localities,” the WHO said. The outbreak, the deadliest ever, has been centered in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, with a handful of cases in Nigeria. The overall fatality rate is 52%, the WHO said, ranging from 42% in Sierra Leone to 66% in Guinea.

Five co-authors of a new Ebola study died of the virus before their research was published – Aug 29

Underlining the immense risks taken by those working in West Africa to understand and combat the worsening Ebola outbreak, five co-authors ofan important new Ebola study were killed by the virus before their research was published. The study, published Thursday in the journal Science, found that the virus has mutated during the outbreak — something that could hinder diagnosis and treatment of the disease.

It was already the worst Ebola outbreak in history. Now it’s moving into Africa’s cities. – Aug 30

We have never had this kind of experience with Ebola before,” David Nabarro, coordinator of the new U.N. Ebola effort, said as he toured Freetown last week. “When it gets into the cities, then it takes on another dimension.

Ebola Virus Arrives in Fifth Country During Worst-Ever Outbreak – Aug 30

While doctors and government officials have spent months trying to stop the outbreak, the infections continue to rise: More than 40 percent of the total cases in this outbreak have occurred within the past 23 days.

Man Hospitalized in Sweden With Suspected Case of Ebola Virus – Aug 31

A young man who recently had traveled in an Ebola-hit African country was placed in medical isolation in Stockholm after developing a high fever Sunday evening, local media reported.

Senegal Ebola case ‘a top priority emergency,’ WHO says – Aug 31

The effort to contain Ebola in Senegal is “a top priority emergency,” the World Health Organization said Sunday, as the government continued tracing everyone who came in contact with a Guinean student who has tested positive for the deadly disease in the capital, Dakar. Senegal faces an “urgent need” for support and supplies including hygiene kits and personal protective equipment for health workers, the WHO said in a statement Sunday.

Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone traced back to a single traditional healer’s funeral where 14 women were infected – Aug 31

Experts also discovered that the West African strain of Ebola was different from the one that has been circulating in Central Africa, thousands of miles away, since the mid 1970s. But the newspaper reports that the two ‘probably diverged as far back as 2004’.

Ebola virus is mutating rapidly — say scientists – Aug 31

A recent research related to the Ebola virus disease (EVD) states that the Ebola virus is rapidly mutating, making it difficult to diagnose and treat. A study conducted on the initial patients being infected with the virus in Sierra Leone revealed more than 400 genetic modifications of the Ebola virus, which might prove detrimental for the ongoing treatment measures but also to the vaccines that are under clinical trials for future treatment of the Ebola virus.

What is the Ebola virus?

According to the World Health Organization, here are some facts about the virus:

Key facts

  • Ebola virus disease (EVD), formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, is a severe, often fatal illness in humans.
  • EVD outbreaks have a case fatality rate of up to 90%.
  • EVD outbreaks occur primarily in remote villages in Central and West Africa, near tropical rainforests.
  • The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission.
  • Fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family are considered to be the natural host of the Ebola virus.
  • Severely ill patients require intensive supportive care. No licensed specific treatment or vaccine is available for use in people or animals.

Transmission

Ebola is introduced into the human population through close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals. In Africa, infection has been documented through the handling of infected chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats, monkeys, forest antelope and porcupines found ill or dead or in the rainforest.

Ebola then spreads in the community through human-to-human transmission, with infection resulting from direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people, and indirect contact with environments contaminated with such fluids. Burial ceremonies in which mourners have direct contact with the body of the deceased person can also play a role in the transmission of Ebola. Men who have recovered from the disease can still transmit the virus through their semen for up to 7 weeks after recovery from illness.

How do you catch Ebola?

According to the World Health Organization, Ebola is not contagious until someone shows symptoms:

The incubation period, or the time interval from infection to onset of symptoms, is from 2 to 21 days. The patients become contagious once they begin to show symptoms. They are not contagious during the incubation period.

What are the symptoms of Ebola?

According to Humanillness.com:

About 5 to 10 days after infection, people with Ebola get a fever, headache, and body aches. Frequently there is nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cough, chest pain, and sore throat. Often there is sensitivity to light, swollen lymph glands, rash, as well as other symptoms. Patients also begin excessive bleeding where injections are given. During the second week of infection, people with Ebola may get better, but often they develop severe bleeding from many parts of the body. If this occurs, then the patient will probably not survive.

The CDC lists the symptoms of Ebola Zaire as:

  • headache
  • fever
  • sore throat
  • muscle aches
  • joint pain
  • general malaise and weakness

Followed by:

  • skin rash
  • red eyes
  • diarrhea
  • vomiting
  • hiccoughs
  • internal and external bleeding in some patients

How is Ebola spread?

According to the WHO:

Ebola is introduced into the human population through close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals. In Africa, infection has been documented through the handling of infected chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats, monkeys, forest antelope and porcupines found ill or dead or in the rainforest.

Ebola then spreads in the community through human-to-human transmission, with infection resulting from direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people, and indirect contact with environments contaminated with such fluids. Burial ceremonies in which mourners have direct contact with the body of the deceased person can also play a role in the transmission of Ebola. Men who have recovered from the disease can still transmit the virus through their semen for up to 7 weeks after recovery from illness.

The other thing about the virus is that currently, there is no treatment yet. They’re doing testing on some people but nothing that’s been proven to work yet. Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said of the current possibility of a vaccine or a cure,

“I don’t want any false hopes out there,”

“Right now we don’t know if they work, and we can’t, as far as we know, have them in any significant numbers.”

Pretty scary stuff, right?

So just how bad is the Ebola threat in the rest of the world?

Almost all the casualties have been in Africa. Does that mean that if you don’t live in Africa or visit that you’re safe? Well, not so fast. The WHO has recently upgraded this threat to the highest level possible and says it’s now a worldwide public health emergency. Why? Because like a wildfire, it’s currently spinning out of control. They’re trying to get ahead of it as quickly as possible but it hasn’t been contained yet.

According to Trust.org, the healthcare system in Liberia is becoming so overwhelmed with cases that it’s collapsing. Liberia’s foreign minister recently said,

“People are dying from common diseases because the health care system is collapsing,” Minister of Foreign Affairs Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan said in an interview with Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“It is going to have a long-term impact, even after this crisis is behind us.”

I can see why the WHO declared this an all-hands-on-deck kind emergency. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) chief Tom Frieden also said,

“Ops Center moved to Level 1 response to given the extension to Nigeria & potential to affect many lives,” 

Level 1 is the highest state of emergency for the CDC. You can get a glimpse of their war room in this piece by Dr Sanjay Gupta.

According to Breitbart,

The CDC had previously issued a Level 3 travel alert to Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia, advising Americans to stay out of the affected areas of West Africa. Level 3 is the highest possible alert warning against traveling to a country. In Nigeria, where five more cases have been diagnosed, the warning level has been raised to 2.

In the days since the Level 3 alert to the other Ebola-affected countries, Nigeria’s lone case has become five diagnoses and an additional death– a nurse who had treated Liberian Patrick Sawyer, who died shortly after flying in from his native country to Lagos, Nigeria with the disease. In Saudi Arabia, a man who was being tested for Ebola after entering the country from Saudi Arabia died before results could come in, while Spain prepares for the return of a priest who was positively diagnosed with the virus in West Africa.

According to NBC News, the virus has now spread to FIVE African countries and the head of the CDC calls the outbreak a “Fog of war situation” and is currently on track to become worse than “all the previous outbreaks combined.”

The two Americans, Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol,  who were flown back to the US have been given experimental drugs to combat the disease, skipping all the normal testing procedures – which is almost unheard of. Did it work? Indications are that they’re doing better but Dr. Heinz Feldmann  of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease told The Daily Beast,

“We don’t know if it is effective,”  “We don’t have enough even if it was effective.”

Ken Isaacs, the vice president of Program and Government Relations for Samaritan’s Purse, wasn’t as chipper.

 “We believe that these numbers represent just 25 to 50 percent of what is happening,” said Isaacs.

According to the World Health Organization, West Africa has counted 1,711 diagnoses and 932 deaths, already. That’s how many they’ve actually counted.

This from The Daily Beast pretty much sums up what’s currently going on there,

In a six-hour meeting with the president of Liberia last week, Isaacs said workers from Samaritan’s Purse and SIM watched as the “somber” officials explained the gravity of the situation in their countries, where hundreds lie dead in the streets. “It has an atmosphere of apocalypse,” Isaacs said of the Liberia Ministry of Health’s status updates. “Bodies lying in the street…gangs threatening to burn down hospitals. I believe this disease has the potential to be a national security risk for many nations. 

So is it a threat to you if you live in West Africa – absolutely, yes. But what about at home?

What’s the threat of Ebola coming to the US?

For Ebola to come to the US, it has to become so out of control in West Africa that it spreads to other countries and then someone infected has to come here. Is there a risk of that happening?

UPDATE – The ebola virus has now been confirmed in Dallas Tx

No word on whether the patient gave the virus to anyone else in the US before he was hospitalized.

Well, first of all, did you know that Ebola has already been in the US? It was in Reston, VA in 1989. Read the article: The True Story of Ebola in Reston, Virginia, by Dr. Ileana Johnson Paugh.

Isaacs says that the epidemic is inciting panic worldwide that, in his opinion, may soon be warranted.

“Our response has been a failure.” “We have to fight it now here or we’re going to have to fight it somewhere else.”

If it does then leave, it still has to get into our country for it to have any chance to affect people here. Am I concerned about that?

You’re damn right. If they can’t contain this thing where it’s already affecting people, then it will spread around the world. If it spreads around the world, some of those people around the world who are infected can get into our country.

Having them fly in on an airline is one thing but there are steps that could be taken to mitigate that threat. It won’t stop people from coming in their own planes or ships but private craft are pretty small and if it did get in that way, I believe that we’d be able to contain it.

On Monday, the CDC said,

“There is no significant risk in the U.S.” “While it is unlikely that the disease would spread if imported into the United States, the recent infections in U.S. healthcare workers working abroad highlight the need for vigilance. CDC is reminding U.S. healthcare workers of the importance of testing and isolating sick travelers returning from the affected areas.”

My biggest concern with it getting into the US, however, is our Southern border.

According to World Net Daily,

The Border Patrol Council reports that 75 percent of illegal border crossers are from countries around the globe, other than Mexico. They are bringing diseases not common to, or eradicated from, the U.S.

So if someone were infected and decided to come into our country through Mexico, we’d catch them right? I’m not even going to dignify that answer with references. I live in Arizona. I see people who came across into our country illegally every day. They definitely didn’t get a medical screening. 

Now, there are certain measures that can be put into place if things got way out of control.

In 2003, President Bush was dealing with the SARS virus and signed Executive Order 13295:

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including section 361(b) of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 264(b)), it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1. Based upon the recommendation of the Secretary of Health and Human Services (the “Secretary”), in consultation with the Surgeon General, and for the purpose of specifying certain communicable diseases for regulations providing for the apprehension, detention, or conditional release of individuals to prevent the introduction, transmission, or spread of suspected communicable diseases, the following communicable diseases are hereby specified pursuant to section 361(b) of the Public Health Service Act:

(a) Cholera; Diphtheria; infectious Tuberculosis; Plague; Smallpox; Yellow Fever; and Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers (Lassa, Marburg, Ebola, Crimean-Congo, South American, and others not yet isolated or named).

(b) Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which is a disease associated with fever and signs and symptoms of pneumonia or other respiratory illness, is transmitted from person to person predominantly by the aerosolized or droplet route, and, if spread in the population, would have severe public health consequences.

Sec. 2. The Secretary, in the Secretary’s discretion, shall determine whether a particular condition constitutes a communicable disease of the type specified in section 1 of this order.

Sec. 3. The functions of the President under sections 362 and 364(a) of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 265 and 267(a)) are assigned to the Secretary.

Sec. 4. This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit enforceable at law or equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, entities, officers, employees or agents, or any other person.

Sec. 5. Executive Order 12452 of December 22, 1983, is hereby revoked.

George W. Bush

On 31 July 2014, Obama signed an Amendment to Executive Order 13295 as follows:

REVISED LIST OF QUARANTINABLE COMMUNICABLE DISEASES

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including section 264(b) of title 42, United States Code, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1.  Amendment to Executive Order 13295.  Based upon the recommendation of the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Acting Surgeon General, and for the purposes set forth in section 1 of Executive Order 13295 of April 4, 2003, as amended by Executive Order 13375 of April 1, 2005, section 1 of Executive Order 13295 shall be further amended by replacing subsection (b) with the following:

“(b)  Severe acute respiratory syndromes, which are diseases that are associated with fever and signs and symptoms of pneumonia or other respiratory illness, are capable of being transmitted from person to person, and that either are causing, or have the potential to cause, a pandemic, or, upon infection, are highly likely to cause mortality or serious morbidity if not properly controlled.  This subsection does not apply to influenza.”

Sec. 2.  General Provisions.  (a)  Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:

(i) the authority granted by law to an executive department, agency, or the head thereof; or

(ii) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

(b)  This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

BARACK OBAMA

So what this means is that they can now legally detain anyone who has severe respiratory symptoms from ANY source as long as they haven’t proven that it’s the flu. I’ll let that sink in for a minute.

Ok, so I’m not all that comfortable with that being passed into law but this article is about Ebola. Right or wrong, there are drastic measures that can be legally taken, and as we’ve seen, it’s nothing but a phone call and a pen to make a bunch more laws if the White House wants it.

What that means is that if Ebola did break out world-wide and did manage to get into our country, it’s unlikely that it would become out of control like in West Africa. We have controls that can be put in place and trained medical staff in every town that can help keep people from getting other people sick.

So overall, I don’t believe that there’s currently a threat of you or your family getting Ebola if you don’t travel to West Africa. I do believe that if the WHO and the CDC don’t contain it there though, we’ll start seeing it in other countries and we’ll start seeing cases here in the US.

So what can you do to mitigate the threat to your family?

So as a prepper, you look at the possible scenarios and try to come up with common-sense measures of what you can do to protect your family.

Because the disease is not airborne, it’s actually manageable. If things get out of control, there are still things you can do.

If you remember from above, in order to catch Ebola, you have to have bodily-fluid contact with someone who’s infected. The key here is to avoid that contact.

The first step should be to make sure everyone in your family is aware of the symptoms of Ebola. If it does jump the border into the US, then you’ll need to make sure that you avoid anyone who has these symptoms.

Unfortunately, those symptoms are pretty common ones and it’s not very easy for non-medical people (and even medical people) to recognize an illness based solely on symptoms. I think this may become a real problem later on this year during flu season.

Because the threat is low right now (it really is), there aren’t any drastic measures that I’d suggest. I wouldn’t pack up the kids and head down to your underground bunker to wait it out just yet.

If things start to get worse and cases start to show up in cities across the US, you may have to limit your exposure to other people. This is called Social Distancing.

Hanging out at a large gym with a bunch of sweaty people probably wouldn’t be such a good idea then. Being in confined places with others where you can touch them should be avoided, if possible. If that does happen and you do have to end needing to go out into public, I’d suggest getting what we call PPE or Personal Protective Equipment available. That will cut down on the chances that you’d come in contact with any bodily fluids.

I’d expect that at this point, the government would start banning large events like football games and concerts. Then theaters and universities would probably be shut down. You’d have curfews in place and travel would be restricted.

If things break out here in the US, there’ll be a run on anything related to protecting yourself from pathogens, so you probably don’t want to wait until that point to get some. Ever been in a city where a hurricane is coming and seen the store shelves empty out from diapers, generators, water and other things? It’ll be the same thing.

If it does somehow break out here in the US some day like it’s doing in Africa, then things are gonna get a bit rough. Economies and people don’t do well when everyone panics. Hopefully you have some supplies available like food and water in case you need to stay home for a while. Once it gets to this point, you probably won’t be able to find any PPE unless you run across someone who stocked up on more than their family needed. This is when they’d institute Martial Law.

If it gets to this point, you really should just lock yourself down somewhere for a while. Maybe for quite a while.

What do doctors use to protect themselves when they’re in contact with infected people?

Here’s a video on what doctors wear to protect themselves from Ebola.

What gear should you have to handle a pandemic?

Here is some protective equipment that you should have available. A lot of this is what you should have anyway but a few of these are specific to dealing with Ebola or some other non-airborne pandemic.

I’ve tried to list examples of several of these items but it’s starting to get difficult to find some of these things available so if what I have listed is out, you may still find it with a search.

Article originally published on Graywolf Survival.

So what are your concerns with this ebola threat? What do you think will happen? What have you done to protect yourself so far?

 

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About graywolf

I am a military veteran who has deployed to combat theaters in Africa, Iraq and Afghanistan and have almost three decades of military and military contracting experience.

My goal is to help preppers and others understand how to intelligently protect their family and their way of life.

Comments

  1. John Mortenson says:

    The first people in the US to be infected will be cleaners and food handlers. Those who clean planes, buses, trains, hospitals, schools, offices. Those who prepare food for restaurants, schools and cafeterias. They will not be using PPE while doing their jobs and will bring the infection back to their families.

    I work in medical research at a major university. Most of the cleaners and food handlers here are Somali, Ethiopian and Nigerian. Right now, there are three that am personally aware of who are in Africa visiting relatives. To the best of my knowledge, they will not be prevented from returning to the US as planned.

    I have already stopped eating in restaurants. I no longer use public transportation and avoid public toilets. I am stocking up on PPE before it becomes difficult to get. Gloves, goggles and N95 masks are the basics. I also have bleach tablets for disinfecting and water purification.

    None of this has impacted my everyday life much, but it feels like I’m doing something to lessen my chances of encountering ebola and many other contagions.

    • Winston Smith says:

      Sadly I have to agree. I work in food service and all but one or two people in my restaurant are unaware of what Ebola even is, let alone that there is an epidemic raging in Africa. I have tried to explain it to as many as would listen but I fear that my job will be the vector by which I would become exposed. The only other prepper minded person in the store that I know of and I had this conversation last night and we both agreed that the first we hear of a case of it in our state we are immediately walking off the job. Why not just quit now? It’s just not practical, especially in a day and age where Obamacare has made it impossible to find a full-time job if you are not grandfathered in.

  2. While the CDC is stating that Ebola is not transmitted by airborne means, Canada’s medical authorities are not so sure. In addition, there was one report in The Lancet that there was non-contact transmission from one monkey to two others, and the conclusions was that Ebola may well be transmitted by airborne means.

    Let’s add to that flies and mosquitoes, bed bugs, lice and other critters that plague humans and can provide that link between people.

    On a bit brighter note, I have read some reports (granted they were anecdotal, not scientific studies) that colloidal silver may be beneficial in early treatment or prevention.

    Our government’s Keystone Cops approach to solving other national problems does not give me great comfort and I plan to make sure that I and my family are prepared to get through whatever may happen without guidance or support of the government.

  3. Lesley A Strohm says:
  4. Very informative post GW. I read the same thing RayK is writing about. WHO is saying that you can only contract it through bodily fluids, but I have read on some health sites that airborne is possible. I am not a doctor, so I don’t know if that is correct for a fact.

    With that said… I enjoyed the detail you gave in this article. Thank you.

  5. Sideliner 1950 says:

    Re: “Sec. 5. Executive Order 12452 of December 22, 1983, is hereby revoked.”

    Now, if I understand that correctly, I am indeed made hopeful…

    I was not aware that one president could, by Executive Order (“Presidential Decree”), revoke the E. O.s of a previous president. In fact, “Executive Order 12452″, which was one of Reagan’s presidential decrees, specifically revokes a couple more previous E.O.s.

    Since the current president has imposed his will upon the populace largely by means of presidential decree (E. O.), could a subsequent president effectively erase the product of the current administration’s E. O.s with one or more of his own Presidential Decrees? Sure hope so. Either way, I invite someone to set me straight on this.

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