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Monday, August 4, 2014

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT EBOLA...AND CHAMPAGNE...AND SHARKNADO 2


Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF) is caused by the Ebola virus.  First identified in 1976 in Sub-Saharan Africa (Sudan and Congo), the hot spots today are in West Africa (Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia), and this outbreak is the largest ever.  Today, a 72-year old lady from Sierra Leone died from Ebola in London soon after leaving the plane at Gatwick.  The 128 passengers and crew were all quarantined.

 The timeline:

  • You physically acquire the virus through physical contact with an infected person, monkey (usually via pigs) or fruit bat.  Not normally transmitted through the air.  Males can transmit the disease via semen for up to three months.
  • Two days to three weeks subsequently, the ailment starts with  fever, sore throat, muscle pains and headaches, just like a normal flu.
  • Then follow nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Your liver and kidneys begin to stop functioning, and bleeding occurs.
  • Typically, 50% to 90% of patients die.  Interestingly enough, the current epidemic seems to wander in the range of 60%.
Supposedly, there is no vaccine, for pharmaceutical companies see no potential market.  However, the military has long been funding this subject for bioterrorism, and, apparently, might have developed some kind of antidote, for both Drs. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebole, missionaries with Samaratan's Purse, are being treated with a secret serum being experimented on only with monkeys by Mapp Biopharmaceutical, which is definitely working.  They both contracted Ebola while treating patients in Liberia.  Brantly is now in a secure facility at Emory University, and Writebole will arrive tomorrow.

First, you wonder why he was not kept out of the country, and second...did he have to walk into the hospital?  He should have been wheeled, even though all reports indicate he was already feeling better.  Queen's Hospital insisted on my being in a wheelchair with a thumb ailment.

There has been around 1000 recent Ebola deaths, with a 40% survival rate.  Should the world clamp down and take strategic action now?  How vulnerable are we in the USA?  I take you back to my Huffington Post article of five years ago on

     A Pandemic Worse Than Swine Flu

In particular, I noted that the avian flu of a decade before had a 60% mortality rate (same as the current Ebola attack), but prospects of mutations and global danger were low.  I went on to say that the panicked world, really, had nothing to worry about:

Swine flu, though, conjures dark images of your mortality. The communications industry, like CNN, saturates air time on such issues because they know people will watch. The WWW picks it up and decision-makers are hopelessly influenced. The cascading circle of information gains a life of its own. The truth is that the truly dangerous virus is not the swine flu, but the medium itself. The pandemic is this resultant overreaction.

From all reports, pharmaceutical firms made a killing, garnering $3.1 billion from the U.S. Federal government for the H1N1 Swine Flu vaccine.  I'm not sure if even one was used.  This time, there is no antidote, so the coming panic will be cheaper.  Are  you then absolutely safe from dying of Ebola?  Of course not, I've been wrong before.

I suspect,  though, that like the Swine Flu Scare, the nature of the contagion (by the way, there was a 2011 movie Contagion, but this was a meningitis type virus) is such that much of the outbreak (and, yes, Outbreak was a 1995 film of Ebola gaining traction in the USA, with Dustin Hoffman, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Spacey and a whole host of stars) will be kept within Africa.

Erin Burnett's 7PM CNN program tonight (1PM Hawaii time)  will have an in-depth focus on Ebola.

One obvious recommendation is to eliminate West Africa on your next around the world trip.

Hate to start a Monday with such a bleak subject, so let me end by wishing President Barack Obama a happy 53rd birthday, and, no matter what you have previously read, it was not on this day 321 years ago that French Benedictine Monk Dom Perignon invented champagne.  And he did not say, "Come quickly, I am drinking the stars."  What he did do is largely invent white wine.  No kidding.  And his lifelong ambition was to get the bubbles out of white wine to preserve the expensive bottles.

Finally, I thought Sharknado 2 was a disaster of biblical proportions.  I recorded it last week and just completed my viewing...the whole movie, cutting out the commercials.  Anyone involved with this film, and that especially includes Matt Lauer, Al Rocker, Kelly Rippa, Michael Strahan, Judd Hirsch (Taxi) and Robert Klein (comedian), should feel embarrassed.

On the other hand, there is something about campiness that excuses, if not totally justifies, such silliness.  No great surprise that there will be a Sharknado 3 to be foisted on you next year, and Chicago, Boston, London and Tokyo are being considered for playing host.  The mark of universal acknowledgement will be, like Watergate, where the media preceded -gate with the newsworthy item of the day...like nipple-gate for Janet Jackson's Super Bowl "accident," which was not such big deal because the essential item was covered.  You will for a while begin to see ?-nado in the coming days.

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There are four major ocean storms, starting with Hurricane Bertha at 75 MPH in the Atlantic, which poses no problems:



Hurricane Iselle, at 115 MPH will in a few days weaken, but is still projected to storm through Hawaii by Friday, with a path that will take her between the Big Island and Maui, skirting just south of Oahu and Kauai:



But major changes can still occur.  Of potential fear is Tropical Storm Julio, now at 45 MPH, but expected to reach Category 2 hurricane strength, generally follow the early path of Iselle, but then move south of the Big Island.  Again, who knows for sure.  Maybe they'll converge on Hawaii at the same time.  It will most likely be a very stormy primary election day on Saturday.

Super Typhoon Halong has morphed down to a Category 3 at 110 MPH, and will skip Okinawa, instead now taking a northern path straight to Shikoku, then west of Kyoto and into the Sea of Japan.  But, as I keep saying, things could change:



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