Common Techniques of The Garden-Variety EbolaTroll™; a Primer to Stop The Stupid


This is one of those times I wear the title “TL;DR King™ of Facebook” with pride. Of course it’s “too long.” This fool wouldn’t stop talking, even after he promised he would. If you’re going to try and wade through the stupid in one sitting, get yourself a snack or a cold beverage now.

“We are living in strange times. I’d like to take a minute to address the Ebola virus. To those of you who choose to wear the government-issue blinders, this is where you should stop reading. I’m going to raise some serious questions and they will fly in the face of what we are being fed by the US government and the CDC.”

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This should be great! I’m on pins and needles over here. Seriously, your lead paragraph just gave me goosebumps. Do you think I should have that checked? It’s not exactly a prickly rash, but — hey, you can never be too careful, amiright?

“I am not a fear monger and I deeply resent that label.”

Wait, what? Why defend yourself prematurely, unless you plan on “fear mongering?” Fun fact: “Projection is a defense mechanism that involves taking our own unacceptable qualities or feelings and ascribing them to other people.” Something to think about.

“What I am is appalled by the lackadaisical attitude of the CDC when it comes to this deadly Level 4 virus. There is no excuse for how badly they have bungled things in Dallas.”

Whoa — whoa — whoa — slow down, cowboy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention aren’t responsible for the initial decisions made at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. The employees of that facility did not have protective protocols or equipment in place, largely because the bean counters in the upstairs office considered it extraneous equipment at the region’s only acute care facility. “Lackadaisical” is really a bridge too far.

“The CDC employs over 15,000 (highly educated) people and has a budget of 11 billion dollars. This is what they train for. Yet, how did they respond to the Ebola virus in Dallas?”

Admirably — thanks for noticing. Otherwise, this virulent illness would have infected half the city by now. It’d be in the water supply! Entire busloads of citizens could join the cast of AMC’s “The Walking Dead.” No, wait — check that — Ebola virus disease (EVD), formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, doesn’t do that. There is zero evidence or concern that the virus will evolve anytime soon, either. Whew — that was a close call, eh? Healthcare professionals will tell you:

  • It’s not transmitted through the air like the flu.
  • According to public health authorities, the only way a person can get Ebola is by coming into direct contact with the body fluids (urine, saliva, sweat, feces, vomit, breast milk and semen) of someone who is already showing symptoms.
  • If the person does not have symptoms, they are not contagious.

“Why wasn’t Mr. Duncan transported to a facility equipped to care for someone in his condition? Why didn’t the CDC sweep into Dallas and take charge of treating Duncan? How is it possible that the CDC allowed untrained healthcare workers to treat this dying man? This boggles the mind.”

I think your mind is easily “boggled.” Why do people ask inane questions on the Internet? Why is the federal government a pariah 364 days out of the year, and expected to be the white knight on-demand? CDC has already “admitted” a rapid response team could have been dispatched earlier — but they’ve got their hands full dealing with the much larger threat Ebola poses at the source — overseas. Those “15,000 (highly educated) people” aren’t all field personnel, either. Get a grip, sport.

“In the final days leading up to his death, Duncan was absolutely toxic. He was a highly contagious virus factory. Again, where was the CDC? The only logical explanation is that Dallas is/was an experiment. This is unconscionable.”

Oh. My. God. I thought this was just going to a basic level, garden variety ‘government is inept’ essay, but clearly you’re prepared to go full-on batshit crazy. Yes, the boogeymen (and women) We the People either elected to office, or hired to perform services for the government, are currently treating the citizens of Dallas, Texas like lab rats. This is serious. Why aren’t you using exclamation points to punctuate your concerns?!

“We have now been told that 75 healthcare workers in Dallas have potentially been exposed to the virus and that the CDC expects to see more cases. Yet, we are supposed to trust the village idiot of all government agencies to contain the virus. Imagine the horror of knowing you may be infected, despite following the protocols that were put in place. How could you sleep at night?”

Well, since they’re healthcare professionals who understand the nature of the threat a lot better than you do, I’m sure they sleep just fine. Try warm milk. Also, I’d love it if you could make up your mind already — are these (as you assert) “15,000 (highly educated) people,” or “village idiot(s)?” Your argument is beginning to fray at the edges (actually, it’s still a tangled bundle of yarn laying at your feet, with no loom in site).

“And speaking of infected healthcare workers, what are we to make of Amber Vinson? Despite what the CDC already knew about Nina Pham, they allowed this nurse (who they suspected to be infected) to board a commercial airliner with a low-grade fever. Wow. And why are we still flying people here from West Africa?”

Well for starters, the Ebola virus is not contagious unless the person infected has begun to display symptoms. Nobody “suspected” Amber was infected, despite your assertions. During their teleconference, CDC confirmed they “identified 76 individuals who might have had exposure to the index patient. Of those 76 individuals, all will be monitored for fever or symptoms on a daily basis actively.” There have been thousands upon thousands of people flying into and out of countries all over the world — and yet the disease is still largely contained to west central countries in Africa. Now don’t you feel foolish? No, probably not.

USAID, WHO and other healthcare professionals have been dealing with Ebola for years now; the lethality of the virus in rural parts of Africa has more to do with the lack of proper medical treatment than anything else. Flu kills tens of thousands of people in this country each year. Heart disease kills even more, but there’s a high carb Happy Meal loaded with fat, sugar and sodium on every street corner in America. Oh, the humanity!

Perhaps if we hadn’t “sequestered” the funds necessary for research, those “15,000 (highly educated) people” would have developed a vaccine by now. But we have other things to pay for, like subsidies for big oil, or handouts to pharmaceutical giants (who then pretend those profits are “international” to avoid participating in our tax base, which would pay for things like medical research. Instead, they squirrel away profits overseas — and complain to politicians they should be allowed to “repatriate” those funds back to the U.S. if only they could get another tax break. You do have access to the Internet, right? Of course you do. You should look up some of these issues.

“This is an unprecedented outbreak of the Ebola virus.”

This is the single dumbest thing I’ve read on the Internet, which is saying quite a bit. Your “unprecedented outbreak” includes two healthcare employees, doing the best they knew how for a dying patient, in a hospital unprepared to adhere to current isolation protocols. Two people does not an “unprecedented outbreak” create.

“What we have learned is that we still know very little about this highly-infectious disease.”

No, what we’ve learned is that you still know next to nothing about Ebola. Medical research specialists have been studying it for ten years or more and know quite a bit, actually. Heck, I’m no professional, but even I know you’re full of fecal matter. Drop the colloquialism — “we” are not amused by your fear-mongering. Offended? Too bad.

“Some experts believe the virus has gone airborne, but they are quickly shouted down and belittled by the CDC.”

“Some people” believe wearing tin foil on their head will keep the NSA from listening to their thoughts, too. The consensus opinion of those “15,000 (highly educated) people” at CDC trump researchers who think they might have successfully manipulated one strain of the virus in their laboratory. If the Ebola virus were airborne (it’s not), then half the people on the continent of Africa would be dead by now (they’re not). If you feel I’m belittling your opinion (I am). What you’re saying is nothing more than “uninformed twiddle twaddle.” I’m pretty sure that’s the preferred medical definition.

“Given the size and scope of this outbreak, isn’t it possible that the virus has mutated?”

No. No, it’s not “possible.” Is it possible you’ve fallen recently and concussed yourself? Considering the symptoms you display, it seems a plausible diagnosis.

“Weeks ago, the CDC itself estimated that soon (worldwide) we could have 1.4 million cases of Ebola. But now we’re being told not to worry.”

You simply don’t process information very well. Where you assert the warning was “(worldwide),” the CDC estimates said “Ebola could infect 1.4 million in Liberia and Sierra Leone by the end of January.” See the difference? Of course you don’t.

The rate of replication in Liberia and Sierra Leone has grown dramatically, which is why a concerted effort, from all nations and not just the United States, is called for at this time. Even Cuba is sending doctors. This is, as the president has already said, an “all hands on deck” situation.

Health workers in personal protective equipment (PPE) wait to enter the hot zone at Island Clinic in Monrovia

Health workers in personal protective equipment (PPE) wait to enter the hot zone at Island Clinic in Monrovia, Liberia on Sept. 22, 2014 (by Morgana Wingard, USAID)

The World Health Organization has provided weekly reports on the West African Ebola epidemic since August; the number of new cases is rising “exponentially.” The epidemiologic statistic to pay attention to is the reproductive rate of disease (how many additional people are infected by each patient with Ebola identified). WHO estimates that number at 1.51 in Liberia, 1.38 in Sierra Leone (and if we’re counting, 2.0 for the whopping 3 cases here in the US). We can do better; we will.

“I understand the need to contain this highly-infectious disease at the source, but I question the logic of sending troops to the hot zone in West Africa to fight Ebola.”

You have a lot of questions, so that’s not surprising. Name another entity better prepared or better equipped to deal with the enormous logistical challenges presented when moving equipment, supplies and personnel into remote areas? Oddly enough, the men and women who serve this nation in uniform are capable of doing more than simply killing “those people” because they frighten you.

According to the World Health Organization:
Community engagement is key to successfully controlling outbreaks. Good outbreak control relies on applying a package of interventions, namely case management, surveillance and contact tracing, a good laboratory service, safe burials and social mobilization.

“The number of troops keeps fluctuating and now there is talk of utilizing the National Guard to help fight the virus. You can’t make this stuff up. What is the plan of attack?”

As our military transitions from a war footing (bringing troops out of Afghanistan), what would you have the Department of Defense do? Tell personnel who have been overseas, in an active war zone for months or perhaps years, that they don’t get to come home? Seems this isn’t a decision best left to the armchair generals on Facebook — or the Ebola outbreak in Africa will continue to grow “exponentially” while you “question the logic.”

“Healthcare workers wearing protective gear (in a controlled environment) have contracted Ebola. How does Washington plan to protect our soldiers against this virus?”

The Pentagon has already given both the House and Senate Armed Services committees answers to those very questions. It’s a big Internet; none of this is classified information. We’ve previously established that employees of Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas did NOT have either the correct protective gear, nor a “controlled environment.” You try getting out of a hazmat suit without touching it — it’s easier said than done.

“As this plays out, we are going to be seeing less and less of this on the internet and on the news. Already, Ebola stories are being scrubbed from the internet.”

Wait, what? Have you paid your cable bill? You can’t turn around online without coming face to face with some moron screeching nonsense about Ebola. You can’t find that on the Internet? Check the mirror.

“The government and the CDC are (justifiably) afraid of creating a panic. They point to other diseases and tell us how we should be more concerned about contracting them. And while that is true, does it mean we’re not supposed to worry about the possibility of Ebola spreading across the US? Call me crazy, but I can’t dismiss that thought.”

I’m pretty sure I’ve already called you crazy, but only because you’re talking like a crazy person. I have no fear that Ebola will spread across the U.S. — but I do what I can to avoid heart disease, cancer, strokes, chronic lower respiratory disease and “accidental injury” (a broad-based item which includes getting shot while cleaning your guns, or suffering from asthma and then being choked to death by a member of the NYPD) — but I digress.

“At the very least, we should demand full (and immediate) transparency when it comes to this virus. Toss HIPPA out the window. This is a case where our right to know outweighs the patient’s right to privacy.”

Again — what? No, seriously — what the hell are you babbling about now? We know everything we need to about those infected with Ebola in this country (except perhaps their shoe sizes — but then, I haven’t checked TMZ lately).

“Seeing how we are incapable of stopping travel out of West Africa, we need to quarantine these people for a minimum of 21 days. This should have happened weeks ago. People infected with the virus need to be immediately transported to facilities that specialize in treating Level 4 viruses. And for crying out loud, can we ask that they wear full protective gear when they come into contact with these people?”

Now you’re talking! Let’s open up those FEMA camps and herd everyone inside! Send off an angry letter to your Congressional representative and ask that they immediately appropriate tens of billions of dollars to care for healthy citizens, because you are afraid they might have ‘the Ebola.’ You can never be too careful, “for crying out loud.” Immediately! Stat!

“Lastly,”

No, really? Promise? We can be finally be done?

“Lastly, we need some accountability out of the CDC. They have totally dropped the ball and this is unacceptable.”

Okay — you lost me, and I was right here the whole time. Officials at CDC accepted responsibility for not sending a rapid response team to Dallas at the first whiff of trouble. That seems, to me anyway, they are being “accountable” (or at the very least, accepting responsibility). If the situation at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital had been allowed to fester without intervention, leading to dozens of cases in Dallas or elsewhere, you might have a point (other than the one under your hat).

By the way — I peeked — and you lied to me. There are two more paragraphs. I’m going for coffee — can I get you something while I’m up?

“Step up or get out of the way. We’re tired of your arrogance and of your apathy. The world is watching and they’re laughing at us.”

LOL — no, no, no … omigod, no. I don’t know how often LOL is typed in a day — but that was a genuine laugh out moment for me. Thank you. Who is “laughing?” Which statement from the White House or CDC has been either “arrogant,” or “apathetic?” What color is the sky in your world? Out here in the real world, it’s blue — and the sandhill cranes and Canadian geese have begun their annual migration up here in my neck of the woods. Get outside and get some fresh air — these symptoms of yours could indicate your brain isn’t getting enough oxygen.

“If months ago a writer was to create a scenario (where Ebola was unleashed upon the American people) …”

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! — Sorry, “unleashed?!” — BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA! <sniff> Okay — I’m better now … heheh … huh, hahahahahaha. Okay, I got this. Really, I’ll be fine. Holy crap, that was hysterical. Let’s try that again.

“If months ago a writer was to create a scenario (where Ebola was unleashed upon the American people) and they listed this chain of events, I highly doubt readers would have bought the storyline. They would laugh at the outrageousness of the plot and drown the author in one star ratings and scathing reviews. Yet, none of this is fiction. And while I hope and pray that we can contain and eradicate this outbreak, I see little reason to be optimistic this will happen anytime in the near future.”

I apologize. I had no idea you were working on a screenplay for a new Dramedy (“…a sub-genre in contemporary forms of tragicomedy, especially in television, that combines elements of comedy and drama). I’ll bet Nick Cage would attach himself to the project. Coming off his performance in “Left Behind” (3.9/10 at IMdB — 2% at Rotten Tomatoes), this nonsense would be right up his alley.

“I could get into much darker scenarios …”

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! — sorry.

“I could get into much darker scenarios, but for now the facts are tough enough to digest. I know many people still have faith in our system. That’s your prerogative. Just don’t expect others to stand down when it comes to sharing our thoughts and fears. We have every right to question authority, especially when it comes to the people who are responsible for our safety. We refuse to apologize to anyone for doing so.”

We? Look, you’re more than welcome to give us a peak inside your diseased mind anytime you feel the calling, champ. And WE are free to point and laugh each time you do. Personally, I find these exercises entertaining, because it often leads me to do further research on a topic. I don’t want to fall into a type of cognitive bias, where I interpret information in a way which merely confirms previously held beliefs or hypotheses. So thanks for the exercise — I hope you had fun. If you paid attention, you probably learned something, too.

You’re welcome.

H/T: White House Blog | Image: CDC / Creative Commons / USAID

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