Coping: A Doctor’s Ebola Note

As we head out this morning on our latest/next adventure, I wanted to pass along a note from a doctor/read of ours. 

He sent in a marvelous note after reading one of our missives earlier this month.  I would have posted it sooner, but it got stuck under a pile of other emails – my bad.

George, thank you for your column today, especially the prepping notes, it was worth the annual fee just for todays information. (for my friends, see )

However, there is some information on Ebola that you need to know and to disseminate.  If people don’t read anything else that I have written here, please understand that IF YOU TREAT A PATIENT WITH EBOLA OR GET NEAR THEM YOU WILL PROBABLY DIE.  You have no idea what it is like to take care of someone with this disease.  

Basically it is impossible without knowing a tremendous amount about disease transmission.  Even the doctors with all their disease transmission gear don’t have a clue.  

And toilet paper needs for someone with this disease?  You must be kidding George.  How about towels and towels and new mattresses?  How about lime and burning all used articles of clothing?  Is anyone prepared for that?  

These people infected are literally DISSOLVING from the inside.  Just to show you what you don’t understand, put some poop (your own or any animal, mix it with some blood (I don’t know where you’re going to get that lol…. local butcher?  I don’t know), put them in a bucket outside in temperatures over 90 degrees (the body is around 100 degrees), let it sit for about 5 hours, and go smell of it for at least a few minutes.  The odor is so overpowering you have no idea.  

Now imagine you have to be around that, and that the smell brings with it an infectious agent that will kill you in the same way.  Ebola is almost certain death.  The only people who have survived have access to high intensity care, usually hospital intensive care type care, and even then their odds are low of survival.  Now imagine hundreds if not thousands or tens of thousands of people infected.  Imagine your child infected, are you not going to try and take care of them?  

This is the problem, most parents and loved ones wont be able to stay away, and they will become infected and spread it on to others.  I have tried for years to break diagnosis of this disease down into a nutshell,  how to recognize, and be concerned that someone might have Ebola, and I came up with the following, if you see someone bleeding from the eyes and the nose, turn around and go the other way, 20 feet is minimum distance, otherwise you are at very high risk of becoming infected.  This is actual BLEEDING (not just red eyes).  Don’t touch anything they have touched, don’t stay in the area.  Whole villages have disappeared for not understanding these simple facts.

That’s it, for more at length, my qualifications are 30+ years of “practicing” medicine, I have participated in research at major research institutions (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Tufts New England Medical Center in Boston Mass.), have practiced in emergency rooms and urgent care centers, and I have a wide interest in socio-economics, politics, epidemiology, and the world in general.  I have logged over 250,000 patient encounters in my career. 

Ebola breaks down into 5 or 6 strains.  The most worrisome problem, detailed in the non-fiction book, “The Hot Zone: The Terrifying True Story of the Origins of the Ebola Virus” which details the “Reston” strain, which became air-borne in a research facility, infected humans, but apparently was only lethal to the monkeys, which died or were put down.

Stephen King said, at the time, that it was the scariest book he had ever read.  In other words, imagine a flu that is circulating that is 90% fatal. 

Currently, and apparently (there are multiple reports going about the current Ebola might be respiratory spread, although I do not see any hard evidence that that is the case), this Ebola strain is not spread by respiratory secretions.  Remember though, that a person with Ebola, is shedding billions (Billions with a B) of viral particles all the time in “body” fluids.  Vomit, diarrhea, sweat(?), saliva, nasal secretions (?) etc.  It possibly only takes one viral particle to infect you. 

Current fatality rates appear to be in the 60-90% range.  There is some concerns though about the “mixing” of the current Ebola strains, and just like the flu, possibly a renegade new strain appearing, that may be spread like the flu, easily, through respiratory secretions. 

The Reston strain (the Ebola strain that is spread like the flu through respiratory secretions…… it was found in at least one of the human researchers, but it caused no disease in the humans, but killed the monkeys) has been found in pigs (a known “incubator” for new flu infections that are then transmitted to humans) in the Phillipines, , and more on that here,

For a general big grouping on viruses look here (Ebola is under Filoviridae, with Marburg Virus), .

It is clear that the Ebola virus is evolving, see

I’m neither a virologist nor an epidemiologist, but it is clear from above that this virus does have the ability to spread, and rather rapidly at that.

Everyone should take the precautions you mentioned in your newsletter, learn to recognize the very simple signs of possible Ebola I mentioned above (bleeding eyes, bleeding nose), and take care to stay away from any such individual.  

And to be clear, when I say bleeding eyes, I mean some droplets of blood coming from the eyes, instead of clear tears.  This is by NO MEANS an absolute positive sign of Ebola, or any other disease, or the only symptoms that might occur in someone with Ebola (early signs of Ebola can include fever and body aches, which can occur in about a thousand other diseases as well including common cold), but is meant to be a sign that might enable someone to live through this epidemic.  

Another tidbit, Ebola virus has been found in semen 61 days after infection and transmission can occur in this manner,,

more information here,

and other Ebola reading if one wants it..

…. I do not vouch for any of the above links.  Read it and gather information as you will.  One thing is clear, this disease is evolving as many viral diseases do, have some common sense, and prepare as you are able, but have no fear, which disables us all.

I apologize for the length.  Keep up the good work.

Dr R.

As we take off on  our trip, we appreciate the risks, and more so, the idea that over time, if Ebola spread continues to ramp up, we may not be doing much travel in the future.

Speaking of Travel

It was great to hear from our friends with the (way cool) castle up in Colorado.  Mike & Shirley were phenomenal hosts on one of our manic adventures…but alas, we won’t know  for another 3-weeks, or so, about the return side of our travels…so many variables anymore…

One thing I’m fascinated by?  Their castle (and I mean it’s a real-deal castle) is right smack-dab at ground zero for the cattle mutilations you read about now and then.  And I’d sure like to talk with some of the folks who have first-hand information about this topic.  Reason?

Not to go completely overboard on conspiracy theories (who me?) but am I the only one that wonders about the deaths of microbiologists a few years back, the swarm of cattle mutilations and now we have another pandemic at our doorstep?

Just seems…oh…you know… a bit…um…too coincidental….but maybe I’ve had too much coffee already.

(Mike up at the castle was wondering if when the Washington Cartel says No Boots on the Ground” in the Middle East rerun if that maybe means the hover boards from Back to the Future have finally arrived.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I’m just guessing it’s an older technology:  lying. Just a guess, mind you….)

Getting Out of Texas/ Kicks on Route 66?

We head out early this morning, leaving Panama here at the ranch, surrounded by cats, sharpening his knives and scanning the woods for anything out of order.

I’ve mentioned to you multiple times that he’s a retired SF fellow, but I don’t think I’ve mentioned that he spent much of his time down in the “outback” of Central and South America as what’s called in the trade a kind of “lone wolf” operator.

Now, the reason I mention this is that because he speaks the different languages from Mexico down to Peru like a local (albeit sounding a bit Castilian) he’s got a unique way of looking at the happenings along the US Mexican border and, particularly, the way things got to be that way.

Over on his site ( there’s now a part 3 to his “Mexico, the Eagle and the Serpent” series which is pretty good.

He should have another in the series up in a few days, and I’ve asked him in one of the upcoming updates to explain how things work at the village-level in places like Honduras and Guatemala.  After all, it’s not everyone who’s lived in them woods both as a US “advisor”  back during (if my memory is any good) Iran-Contra and then going back more recently when he was living in Panama and doing long jeep/walking /hikes as a kind of Indy Jones fellow, interested in local archeology.

Reader Douglas B sent us a fine note about one of our return options, namely, coming out historic Route 66.  I’d mentioned my plans on Peoplenomics yesterday to build “Ure’s Casino Highway” which would include overnights in Reno, Carson City, Vegas, our favorite casino in Payson, AZ, and then the Route 66 Casino Hotel outside of Albuquerque.

He’s got an alternative for us…

On Route 66, the Acoma (“Sky City”) casino is around 65 miles from ABQ, and has decent accommodations (BYOB, as with all Indian reservations.), but the real lure is the actual city on the mesa, along with a great visitor center at which you can get Native dishes as well as American fare. Buffet at the I-40 casino is fine as well.

But visiting the pueblo is a lesson in how to survive and thrive in very hostile, inhospitable situations. Like most NM pueblo cultures, these are exceptionally friendly and nice folks, despite centuries of maltreatment by European assholes.. I guarantee you will learn something here. Also, there’s a huge rock shop in Holbrook, AZ that is well worth the stop. Full of museum grade cool stuff. In the parking lot, entire giant trees of petrified wood, on their sides and broken, but clearly trees, including bark. Even the bathrooms are amazing. As with all ’66 towns, get off I-40 and go down the drag until you see all the local pickup trucks packing a place. The food and service will be exceptional. Try the Comet Cafe in Santa Rosa, NM family run for pushing 70 years.

Acoma has a business center for internet as well as wifi. Reasonable gas prices as well.

In ABQ, try Hurricane’s for a very New Mexican take on ’50s drive in/ sit down food. Many movies film there. The “Disaster Burrito” has to be seen to be believed. Tell Greg the owner that Doug (the reader) sent you.

I’ll see him on Friday.

I think (going from memory – always risky at this age – that it’s  out just east of Grants, New Mexico…which last time we were through looked like it was growing like a weed.  Energy development and mining in the area, if I recall.  We’ll learn more on the way back, I ‘spose.

Anyway, the Casino Highway book I’ve got planned would then continue over Interstate 40 to the Wynnstar and that parch of emporiums south of OK City.  And from there it would be on along I-40 to Fire Lake Resort/Casino up at Shawnee, OK (and dinner with the Landry’s) and then over to the boats at Shreveport which is really Boosier City and then…well, you can see at $20 bucks worth of nickel slots per night how this is a quick road to financial ruin.

But since the whole damn country’s on one anyway, I’m not sure it will matter much.  Besides, in casinos the odds are more honest and openly posted.

“Dealer Must Hit Soft 17” is one of my favorites.  I’m sure they have a similar sign at the State Department:  “Country must bomb if Resource is greater than X.”  Or, “If you turn over the Iraq card, you get another spin.”

Unlimited Drinking Water?

Marvelous article, speaking of readings while we’re out and about – over at Gaye’s Backdoor Survival website.

Her “How to use Pool Shock to Purify Water” brings us back to the Y2K prepping coverage around here when we last looked at dry storage of water purification tools.  Good article, worth printing off and putting in your “Just IN Case” book.

Well, a super-short look at the news this morning and then we’re off…in several manners of speaking.  Tourism, craziness medications, and general comments on the Oh so marvelous state of the world are always welcome when you write when you break-even.


PS:  To take UrbanSurvival and Peoplenomics on the road is now a three computer expedition. Plus  a GoPro, two single-image cameras, one image-stabilized, two Kindle Fires, a CB and weather radio, HF ham rig, two 2-meter radios, a solar-powered gcrank radio and a general purpose shortwave receiver.  Did I mention a digital tape recorder?  Half a dozen memory cards and so thumb drives?

Elaine’s idea of roughing it is a two-star motel. Mine is daily power consumption of less than 15 kilowatt-hours worth of power spread across networks and the radio spectrum.  Maybe women are an advanced species that keep us around for breeding purposes only.…here, let me get that door for you…