GBU Mountain News LXXVI October 15, 2014.pdf
GBU Mountain News
October 15, 2014 - LXXVI
infectious or parasitic diseases may affect travelers, in
particular malaria. Taking unspecific symptoms like
fever into account, the positive predictive value of a
positive screening result for a rare disease is very low,
particularly when the prevalence of other febrile
infectious diseases among travelers is higher than that of
Ebola (e.g. influenza, malaria).
Fever is a symptom that can also be temporarily
concealed by using antipyretic drugs. Passengers aware
of presenting with fever may be tempted to conceal it for
fear of being prevented from boarding a flight (exit
screening) or entering the country (entry screening).
Why is there no Vaccine
Before the current outbreak there were 33 smaller
outbreaks since 1976 in mostly poor African nations,
with a total of 1,500 people killed by the Ebola virus.
Researching and developing a vaccine and subsequent
inoculations cost tens of millions of dollars. The
pharmaceutical and the health care industry are driven by
funding, either from governments or profits from the sale
The limited number of casualties in previous outbreaks
did not provide a financial incentive, and -indeed
somewhat difficult to understand- no government or
philanthropic organization funded major research.
Only a few biotechnology companies were working on
medicines, vaccinations and tests for Ebola, many of
which received funding from the National Institutes of
Health. ZMapp, under development by a California firm
called Mapp Biopharmaceutical, has garnered attention
since the outbreak began, but the company has now
depleted its stock by shipping medicine overseas.
According to a report in the New York Times, the U.S.
government, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and
the Wellcome Trust are currently working with that
company and another firm to boost production of the
Now that investors have become interested, a few more
firms are now working to research and develop treatment
options. Those include Sarepta Therapeutics in
Massachusetts, BioCryst Pharmaceuticals in North
Carolina, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals in Canada. British
pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline and Japan's
Fujifilm are researching on vaccines and medicines.
However solutions are at the very least three to five years
into the future. Inventing medicines and vaccines as well
as diagnostic tests is complex, difficult and takes time. It
is an arduous task that involves much more failures than
The Director-General of the World Health Organization
(WHO) stated on Monday, October 13, 2014:
“In my long career in public health, which includes
managing the H5N1 and SARS outbreaks in Hong Kong,
and managing the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic at
WHO, I have never before seen a health event attract
such a high level of international media coverage, day
after day after day.
“I have never seen a health event threaten the very
survival of societies and governments in already very
poor countries. I have never seen an infectious disease
contribute so strongly to potential state failure.
“I have never seen a health event strike such fear and
terror, well beyond the affected countries.”
The WHO reported on Tuesday, October 14, 2014 that
the death rate in the Ebola outbreak has risen to 70% of
those infected and that, within two months, up to 10,000
new cases a week can be expected.
Stopping flights from West African Nations to the U.S.
will not help. People can easily fly to any major airport in
Europe, Asia, or the Middle East and from there catch a
flight to North America. At this point in time is appears
neither feasible nor enforceable to quarantine four (or
more) entire nations or even an entire continent.
Threat for Kern County?
A few of the world’s busiest airports are located within
driving distance from Bakersfield. Los Angeles
International Airport (~120 miles south of Bakersfield)
handles 35 million passengers a year (95,000/day), San
Francisco International Airport (~290 miles north of
Bakersfield) handles 23 million a year (71,000/day), and
Las Vegas International Airport (~280 miles east of
Bakersfield) sees 22 million passengers a year
(63,000/day), many of those coming from foreign
Just hypothetical: If only 0.1% of these daily 229,000
passengers are infected, and only 1% of these 229
infected passengers comes to Kern County, that would
make 2.3 infected persons per day.