Is Ebola nature's equalizer to human overpopulation?
Nature, of course, isn’t purposeful in the sense of consciously “equalizing” species with epi/pandemics. If it were – or, more plausibly, humans were to use a natural disease as a weapon – I don’t think ebola would be a good choice, because it’s not as easily transmitted, difficult to detect and contain, and doesn’t kill as great a fraction of people who’re infected with it, as other pathogens.
Consider the current Ebola epidemic
, compared to the 1918 influenza pandemic
. The medical response in both cases is essentially the same – quarantine infected people to prevent spread of the disease, keep hydrated and nourished until their immune system can overcome it – both had/are like to have similar durations – about 2-3 years - but in 1918-1920 flu pandemic killed 50,000,000 to 100,000,000, while the current Ebola epidemic has killed about 5,000, and will likely have killed about 10,000 before it’s over. Statistically, the flu pandemic was about 10,000 times more deadly than our current Ebola epidemic.
Can the virus be absorbed thru the skin??
Being, like nearly all viruses, very small (about 0.000001 m diameter), Ebola can physically be absorbed by skin, which is porous on such scales. However, skin consists of a (by anatomical standards) thick layer of dead tissue – the epidermis – containing no blood vessels. Ebola is able to infect and be reproduced only in living cells, primarily endothelial (blood vessel lining), macrophage, and liver cells, so having it in your skin won’t directly infect you.
The reason to avoid skin contact with fluids containing the Ebola virus is that you’re likely to spread it to your eyes, mouth, or nasal passages, which unlike skin, provide entry to the bloodstream. While in principle one could wash thoroughly, especially with a bleach solution, which is destructive to viruses, which, compared to true biological organism, are fragile, it’s better to use disposable or washable impermeable protective gowns and suits, taking care to avoid touching their outsides when doffing (taking them off).
It can live in semen for up to 70 days so is it sexually transmittable ??
Almost certainly, yes.
Quoting from this CDC page
Once someone recovers from Ebola, they can no longer spread the virus. However, Ebola virus has been found in semen for up to 3 months. Abstinence from sex (including oral sex) is recommended for at least 3 months. If abstinence is not possible, condoms may help prevent the spread of disease.I believe this feature of the disease is under-communicated
I’ve not read or heard it from a major US or UK news outlet. I hope it’s being better communicated in West Africa, where most Ebola survivors live.
Pretty amazing how a little virus can be so deadly. It destroys the membrane of the capillaries so you bleed out with a nice little fever.
Being destructive to endothelial cells, Ebola can and does cause intestinal and internal bleeding. However, most deaths result from failure to keep enough water in the bloodstream – hypervolemic due to dehydration. People who are promptly cared for with IV fluids have a much greater (possibly as high as 95%) chance of surviving.
Compare this to the HIV virus that causes AIDS, which unless treated with drugs that attack the virus – which took decades or research by thousands of specialists - is nearly 100% fatal. In the details of its pathophysiology, Ebola is not among the most deadly viruses.
It almost feels like the Andromeda Strain.
I found the 1969 novel the Andromeda Strain
scary, thrilling, and scientifically interesting (especially since I read it shortly after its publication, when I was an impressionable 10 years old), but comparisons of Ebola, a well-studied and understood member of the Filovirus family of viruses, to the fictional “Andromeda Strain”, which came from space, had a never-before-seen-on-Earth structure and mechanism (these days, we’d likely call it a “nanomachine”, though that term wasn’t coined ‘til about 1986). Perhaps the scariest part of the novel, and the main driver of its waning plot, was
. Just leaving Ebola to dry out outside of a host for a few days, or bleaching it, kills it.
Obama and the CDC are incompetent. I don't trust anything they say..
Though not so far a problem in the US and other countries with agencies like the CDC, lack of trust like this is believed by many experts to be one of reasons the current West African Ebola epidemic has been so large. Not trusting medical caregivers and government or non-government agency information, many Africans have refused to cooperate, removing infected people from the quarantine needed to thwart the disease’s spread, and care that can increase their odds of survival.
Such mistrust is dangerous. Fortunately, it’s not widespread. In the US, I think it’s mostly due to subdued political advertising by the Republican Party and its supporters, and unlikely to have much effect on the Ebola epidemic.
Make sure you have a month or 2 of food and water to hole up under a crisis just in case.
“Be prepared” is good advice, but I think the likelihood of needing to hole up to survive an Ebola pandemic is nearly zero. Human extinguishing nanomachines from space like the Andromeda Strain seem to me as likely.