Monday, October 13, 2014

A Pale Horse

I loathe to write this. Somehow the act of doing so seems to bring this specter a reality that I so desire to deny it. I am reminded of tales of which I've read about the Black Death which took place in 14th Century Europe whereby individuals infected with the virus would sew themselves into their death shrouds and simply wait. The plague killed almost a 1/3 of the entire population. Modern DNA studies indicate that the plague originated in Central Asia and was introduced into Europe by merchant ships traveling from the Middle East who unknowingly brought with them infected rats. In some ways, that same introduction remains the same. Ebola, the specter I am referring to, has been introduced into the world by air commerce from West Africa, where it had been previously contained. Up until a few months ago, the US was fairly insulated from this modern plague by restricted air travel, however, Obama permitted its introduction. As of this writing, there is no central command structure in place to oversee the containment or the treatment of this killer.

These individuals were faith based volunteers who knowingly assumed the risk by entering the infected region to treat other individuals when they themselves became infected. Rather than treat them there by transferring the necessary medicines and equipment (which could have also treated those living in the infected areas), Obama agreed to bring those aid workers here, and in doing so, has now indirectly caused the possible infections (and certainly the quarantines) of dozens of others against prevailing medical wisdom and national security considerations. Bearing in mind that the fatality rate is approximated 50%, potentially no one is safe. Any infections or deaths in the US as a result can be laid squarely at the feet of President Obama. As present, treatment is in the hands of each state, with the Atlanta Center for Disease Control in Georgia acting as sort of the standard bearer (while Texas, at this point, is being held up nationally as the "bad example" of what not to do). Meanwhile, the National Center for Disease Control (CDC) merely acts in an advisory role; providing specialist on a "as needed" and if requested basis. This is potentially a global crisis; certainly a potential national one. There needs to be a central command with centralized procedures established. Perhaps Obama's heart was in the right place, his head wasn't and it's from there that a president, or any leader of a country must ultimately govern.

Obama will certainly will go down in history as a standout president, and by standout I mean one of the one dimensional cardboard standouts you see in malls and movie theaters. He has been a failure in everything he's done. His only success, if you want to call it that, has been pretending to what he is not. He received a Nobel Peace Prize for accomplishing absolutely nothing, but pretending to offer absolutely everything. I don't know if this more indicative of the phoniness of the criteria or to fact that he should have received the Golden Globe Award instead for best portrayal of the American President (which, by the way, Michael Douglas should have won in the movie by the same name).

Perhaps he isn't to be blamed. He is surrounded by countless sycophants like actress Gwyneth Paltrow, who recently gushed all over him at a political fundraiser like some witless weak kneed fool , and doubtlessly made many regret attending (and for those struggling with the term "sycophant", think of it as cross between a groupie and a kiss-up). He is proof that just because one is able to do something, that one needn't but thanks to the power of advertising and its ability to manipulate people, in this case voters, into thinking, amid the glitz and stage management, that weaknesses is strength and empty rhetoric and catch phrases can pass for knowledge or experience, we drank the Kool-Aide. But, let us move from the blame to the cause and see where this errant of Death has travelled thus far.


The origins of the Ebola Virus appears to be from the common fruit bat. Somehow the fruit bat has been able to act as the carrier or
"reservoir" of the virus without itself becoming infected. Animals and ultimately people became infected through direct and possibly indirect contact with the fruit bat. The first known cases of the infection was in Nzara in the South Sudan (incidentally , dead fruit bats with the virus were found nearby at a burnout cotton factory where they lived). 284 people became infected with the virus, of which 151 died. Since then, the virus has spread to the Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire), near the Ebola River from whence the deadly virus takes its name (as an aside, it was in the same region that HIV--Aids--began to make its presence felt starting in the late 1970's/early 1980's). Since 2000, there has been approximately 3 or 4 major outbreaks in Uganda and the Congo Republic, resulting in the infection of around 1000 people, of which most have died. Since then, the virus has rapidly spread from Central Africa to the West African nations of Guinea, Sierre Leone, and most notably, Liberia. To date, there has been in the neighborhood of 8376 reported cases, or which just under half, or 4024, have died including 214 healthcare workers.

The virus is listed as a Biosafety Level 4 pathogen, the highest and most dangerous level as ranked by the CDC, and is spread by and through bodily fluids of all types including salvia, blood, semen, feces, sweating, or even sneezing. Contamination takes place when some of the fluids enter a potential host through cuts, scraps, the eyes, nose, mouth, sexual contact, and so forth. Symptoms are reported to be initially similar to influenza, and include a sudden high fever, loss of appetite, diarrhea, and vomiting. Later, as the virus spreads, the symptoms become much worse bleeding can begin from essentially every opening, along with a systematic failure of the body's organs. Once infected, depending on available care, age, or overall health before infection, patients typically live only a few weeks. Until recently, not much more than quarantining the victims and making them as comfortable as possible was all that could be done. Healthcare workers have had to wear biohazard suits and limit contact as much as possible (and then afterwards, the biohazard suits are destroyed, usually by burning).

Near Term

Despite the near 50% mortality rate, there are some experimental drugs which may limit or reverse the virus have been developed and show promise. Only a few humans have been successful treated so far, but we're a long way yet from mass production in case of a massive outbreak. In the interim, common sense sanitation procedures such as washing hands with soap and hot water, proper cooking of all foods, especially meats, covering your face when you cough or sneeze, using sanitizers, etc should become a matter of routine. There are also indications that heat (30 to 60 minutes at 140F/60C) can help kill the virus as well as the use of bleach based cleaning supplies typically used in most hospitals (the virus has known to remain active when left on counter tops for up to three days). Where Texas has failed was in its containment through quarantine of the suspected individual(s), proper removal of bodily fluids, and disposal of items such as towels, wash cloths, and bed sheets. Now, it is in a state of catch-up and hoping its mishandling doesn't results in further spread of the virus or in any additional deaths.

Airport personnel, including air crews and airport security, are also screening passengers, especially those who may be showing possible symptoms or maybe from infected regions. Hopefully, this will be expanded to include bus terminals and bus drivers. And once again, this is yet another argument for securing our southern border. Still, this may not be enough, but it's a start. Until additional steps can be takes, we all need to be more vigilant.

Long Term

"When the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come and see!” I looked and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine, and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth". (Revelation 6:7-8 KJV), and so the Pale Horse rode forth to join his demonic companions according to John of Patmos---the White Horseman proclaiming peace while it conquers; the Red Horseman which spreads wars; and the great equalizer, the Black Horseman of Death. Where will the hooves of the Pale Horse fall next?

While Ebola continues to wreak havoc on West Africa, so far no reports of outbreaks have been reported by the world's most populous nation, China. Given the rural nature of China, such an outbreak could have devastating consequences. To help reel it in before it spreads east, China has donated US $38 million dollars along with medical teams totaling 59 workers to the infected nations (the US contribution has, so far, been $138 million). In addition, China has donated $2 million to the World Health Organization (WHO) and another $2 million to the African Union.

India, the world's second most populated country is on guard against possible entry of infected individuals following a recent scare. 17 employees of an Indian company arrived from in Mumbai from West Africa. While all 17 were quarantined, 16 were ultimately released while one was held due to an high fever. However, to date, no widespread cases have been reported. Like China, India is densely populated in its cities while remaining largely rural, relatively poor with substandard sanitation conditions. An outbreak would likely spread rapidly and proved deadly on a massive scale. However, while India has been more forthcoming as to its efforts to restrict travel to and from West Africa, China has typically remained silent on its efforts. Meanwhile, the WTO has warned Southern Asian nations of the possibility of an Ebola outbreaks given its travel and trade hubs, and large numbers of migrant workers from West Africa.

Perhaps the greatest risk for a potential outbreak is Europe, which has essentially an open door policy regarding immigrations, which tends to be largely from Africa and Turkey; the Czech Republic just reported a possible case. Most recently, Spain reported a healthcare worker---a nurse---became infected with the deadly virus (as an aside, she had also just recently take a healthcare test alongside some 20,000 people at the time she began running a low grade fever and was possibly contagious) and two other healthcare workers are being watched. Spanish authorities report that a total of approximately 50 individuals are now under surveillance.

Russia, which hasn't reported any infections thus far, not only appears to be prepared with all the necessary precautions, but according to Russian Health Minister, Veronika Skvortsova, they anticipate three possible vaccines to be ready within the next six months. One of vaccines was developed from an inactive strain of the deadly virus and another one is ready to move forward with clinical trials. Canada's Public Health Agency (PHAC) has stated that Ebola's threat remains "very low", while it too has stepped up precautions along with providing international assistance to the affected countries.

While European nations are moving to take precautions, such as ensuring there are ample medical supplies and secure quarantine areas, as well as monitoring of airports, train stations, their actions have been uneven and slow, and like the US, nothing is being done regarding their immigration issue; Europe, in part, relies on low skilled workers from Africa and Turkey for many of its low paying menial jobs. because many of these individuals do not speak the language of the host country or has much interaction outside their localized enclaves, thus reporting and ultimately treatment may prove to be difficult. Accordingly, the WTO has warned European leaders to expect possible new cases.

Latin America has thus far fared better. Only one case has been reported, that in Brazil, which has proven to be negative. The individual had recently arrived from Guinea and was immediately quarantined. After no symptoms appeared, the individual was released. While most Latin America governments consider the threat of Ebola low, most have taken steps to deal with any potential cases, with Argentina taking the lead. One case of Ebola was reported in Mexico, however, the story later proved to be false. The biggest threat nevertheless, appears to be to those living in the extreme poor Caribbean nations, such as the West Indies, Haiti or Granada primarily because of their poor economic conditions and lack of adequate sanitation standards, including food handling and drinking water as well as close West African connections. Cuba, however, because of it positive history regarding healthcare may be better situated to deal with any possible outbreaks.

In addition, there's the concern of possible carriers crossing the US-Mexican border. Recently, as many of you will recall, approximately 60,000 children were illegally abandoned on the US border; some of these children were also sick. While most of these were your run-of-the-mill illnesses, a few were infected with illnesses we haven't seen in generations in the country and several had illnesses which could not be identified. Thanks to the Obama Regime, most of the illegals have vanished into the Heartland of America, while a few of the sick children were literally whisked away in the night by US agents to parts unknown according to State authorities.


According to African myth, the Abiku were human devouring demons. Among their powers was the power of disease and plagues. While Western Christianity has the Pale Horseman, both represent the unseen enemy of Man--- pestilence, famine, and disease in whatever form it appears. We have the technology and ability to fight back whereas our ancestors did not. It's power lay largely in the fear of the unknown. They had little or no knowledge about germs, bacteria, sanitation, proper food preparation (though the concepts of Halal and Kosher preparation, as well as the use of salt and spices learned from East were a start). Ebola, for all the terror and misery it holds, may offer Mankind an opportunity to work together to stop a non-discriminating killer. Like HIV/Aids, it may show they we have more in common that not; certainly when it comes to what kills us we do.

The world has shrunk. There are no places where we are safe any longer. Nevertheless, we must take active precautions now. We must practice common sanitation sense like washing our hands with soap; proper waste disposal; adequate clean drinking water. We must develop and provide sufficient healthcare. Old superstitions regarding vaccinations or treatments must be consigned to the past, as must misguided religious dogma regarding birth control. Meanwhile, governments must exert strong border security to contain possible carriers. Common sense regarding the transportation of potential carriers outside of infected countries must be balanced against the dangers of accidental spreading of diseases to whole populations. Clearly in the US cases, the Obama Regime failed in that regard, as has the State of Texas. To borrow from Aldous Huxley's aptly titled 1931 book, this is indeed a "brave new world" and though it takes place in 2040, but we may be closer to another book, Michael Crichton's 1969 bestseller "The Andromeda Strain" if we don't act as one. So dear reader, what will it be?

WTO says East Asia at risk of Ebola

China Seeks Influence in Africa, Pledges Extra $32 Million to Ebola Fight

Ebola scare raises its head in Mumbai-Delhi

More Cases of Ebola in Europe Unavoidable: WTO

Latin America Prepares Hospitals , Airport Screenings to Fight Ebola Threat

Here's Where Ebola Could Spread next

Ebola outbreak fuels Concerns over health risk along US-Mexican border

US Prepared for Ebola...10 Patients At A Time

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