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EBOLA! EBOLA! EBOLA!Dr. Phil Leveque and Bonnie King, Salem-News.com
Exclusive interview with Dr. Phil Leveque, Forensic Toxicologist and Pharmacologist, on the Ebola Epidemic.
(PORTLAND, Ore.) - I was there with boots on the ground. In 1968, I was recruited by the University of London to train doctors in east Africa. I taught at the National University in Uganda and the National University in Dar es Salaam for two years.
In addition to that, from my main base in Uganda, which is just about in the center of Africa, right on the Equator, the British medical education system goes like this: 3 months on, teaching, and one month off. That gives three whole months during the year to do anything not necessarily related to my teaching in Uganda or my teaching at Dar es Salaam.
During this time, I decided that I should see as much of the country as possible. This is probably, or it appeared to be, a one-time opportunity to see as much of Africa as I could. So from my base in Uganda, I went 200 miles, approximately, south to Dar es Salaam, 200 miles north to what is called the Samburo country, 200 miles west to the edge of the Congo, and 200 miles east to the coast of Kenya to Mombasa.
And so, my remarks are based upon a block of country 400 miles north and south and 400 miles east and west.
The Poverty is just Striking.
To say that I was astonished is not the right word, but the people that I saw within that 400 square mile area were the most poverty stricken people I could ever imagine in my worst nightmares.
We speak of a hand- to- mouth existence, that was certainly the case. I was there around 1970 and as far as I know, anyone that had a metal or aluminum cooking pot was considered wealthy. Buying a cooking pot might have required a month’s earnings, or maybe more than that. Eating their food was literally hand- to- mouth.
Bananas didn't originally come from Africa, they came from Southeast Asia about a thousand years ago, but they are the main food for most of the continent, and animal protein is a fantasy.
In fact, people in Uganda eat more bananas than any other place in the world at 1.5 pounds daily per person; it is also the second-largest producer of bananas in the world. They don’t export much; they need all the food they can get there.
Most Africans have never seen a wild animal, because over the million years or so that they've been there, they've killed everything that was within a short distance to their homes or their villages.
One of my sons, who traveled up in that area quite frequently, witnessed a Chief using a human skull to eat from. He was probably considered a rich man, at having a “second skull” he could use as a utensil. I’m sure that the Chief had “the” bowl, and his subjects probably didn't.
I don’t remember if he took a picture of this or just told me about it. The average African doesn't want you to take his picture because in doing so you’re taking his soul, or inhabiting his soul, or whatever the right word is there. They object mightily and if you try to take it in secret you’re likely to have someone split your head with a machete.
Native People Must See it to Believe it
Most Africans, and whether that’s 51% or 91%, scarcely believe in the so-called germ theory. They believe in spirits, but they don’t believe in bacteria or viruses, something so miniscule can’t possibly be causing the problems that they’re having. That includes, currently, the Ebola Virus.
In September, a team of Guinean health officials and journalists distributing information and doing disinfection work were murdered by residents of a village. Government officials said "the bodies showed signs of being attacked with machetes and clubs" and "three of them had their throats slit."
Some people in this area reportedly believe that the officials were purposely spreading the disease, while others believe that the disease does not exist at all. Exactly the problem.
In the mid- to late 1970’s, the AIDS virus first erupted. It is generally accepted that the origin was Africa, and by 1980, HIV had spread to five continents, the U.S. included. It was a pandemic, but as far as the Africans were concerned, this was a “European person’s disease”, it wasn't an “African disease”. It took many years to figure out, that whether or not Africans are especially susceptible to viruses, such as Ebola and AIDS, is completely up for grabs.
The AIDS virus and possibly the Ebola virus may also be carried by apes and monkeys; it is the reservoir for many of these kinds of diseases. The virus is transferred to humans in Africa because they eat monkeys, it is called bush meat. If the meat is not well cooked, the virus can be transferred to humans. The fuel for cooking is also hard to come by, so it is not uncommon for meat to not be fully cooked.
Where do all these people live?
Ok, in the 400 square miles I traveled, there are some cities. Nairobi is a very striking metropolis stuck right there in one of the most impoverished areas in the world. Two miles out of town, people live in grass huts or mud huts, and I’m not just exactly sure whether the mud huts they live in are called a bomba, and they usually have a fence around their little plot of land which may be something like 100’x100’ to keep out any kind of wild animals there.
Almost all of the rural people do have goats, and if you have a goat it means you’re a rich person and able to send your child to school. Schools are not free in Kenya. Almost nobody has anything bigger than a goat, which they use for milk and of course to feed themselves.
Almost as a side issue, most Africans live out in the country. Total population of the continent is 1.1 billion (2013). The country where I was, Uganda, at that time it had 13 million people, today there are 37.5 million living there.
Africa is broken into three layers.
The top layer, near the Mediterranean, is where people have most comfortably lived for a thousand years or more.
The main difference about this is, on the Mediterranean edge, most of the people live within maybe 10 miles of the Mediterranean Sea. The rest of it is the Sahara Desert.
Samburo country is the bottom of the Sahara. Most Americans don’t have the slightest clue about the size of the Sahara Desert; it’s larger than the United States. It’s just a huge pile of sand, and of course there are rocks and so forth, but very little vegetation and oases.
Central Africa population is very scarce throughout the entire region.
When you fly over at 40,000 feet there are just little green specks here and there, and I suppose many of the oases are permanently inhabited but if the locals and their animals all moved into an oasis, they would eat up all of the vegetation very, very rapidly. So they don’t do that.
They are nomads in the strictest sense of the word and move from oasis to oasis, and probably most literally chew the vegetation down to the ground, and of course there is water in these areas, so the stuff grows back.
But essentially, the population of the entire Sahara Desert is one of the lowest on the planet. The Sahara is 3.5 million square miles, and has only 2.5 million people living there. Just think! Only two and a half million people in an area bigger than the U.S. That’s a low population.
South Africa has been inhabited by white folks since about 1500 when the Dutch, the Portuguese and the Spanish and everybody else, even English, had colonies.
The northern most and southern most parts of Africa are the only places where there is great population and what we know as “civilization”.
They came for the Treasures of Africa
Why the poverty? All of the Europeans getting all of the gold, the metals, the resources... whatever they could haul away and take to Europe, this is the main reason Africa is totally impoverished.
At the same time, the main export from Africa throughout the years has been what? Or, rather, WHO? From 1450-1900, the estimated total of slave exports from Africa is about 15 million people.
First, the Africans were literally hauled away by the Arabs. The Arabs were from great sea going countries and the Africans were easy to capture and take away and so forth. So, the Arabs came first, and they brought them to all the Arabic countries, then pretty soon they started shipping them to Central America and South America and eventually to North America, the United States.
In all, 12.5 million Africans were shipped to the New World, with only 10.7 million surviving the trip. Again, exactly how many slaves were brought away from Africa is not known, but the figure is about 15 million, so that’s an awful lot of people.
These Africans were destitute when they were captured, they couldn't defend themselves against any type of weapons, they didn't have iron weapons for swords and spears and so forth like that, and the Arabs and all the Europeans had weapons so that they could steal the Africans and get away with it.
Africa’s Myriad of Challenges
Two of the early Ebola victims were American missionaries and they put them in HAZMAT suits and shipped them to the United States. Those two people had the only available vaccine, which in this case actually did work. They’d been doing research with monkeys and developed the vaccination material.
There’s no way they’re going to be able to catch up and make a vaccine that will work in this particular case. I think a million deaths is conservative.
It is traveling so fast, increasing so fast, there’s no way to catch up to it because people that are mildly ill, which they think may be just the flu, get away from the west coast of Africa, so they go to central Africa, and bring the disease along with them.
Poverty may be the largest problem, but it’s far from the only one in terms of reaching people, and educating the masses. Their lack of communication and lack of education plays a huge role in getting a handle on this killer virus.
Out in the country, or the bush, it is not just “Third World”, it is more 4th or 5th world! It is as if you walk back into the 14th century in these wilderness areas where they live on half-acre farms, scattered everywhere, miles from the closest town or village.
Because Africans do not have healthy diets and little or no access to medical care, they have a serious lack of ability to fight off a virus or disease. Their poor immune systems and lack of protein in their diet makes them the perfect target, there in Africa. Along with this goes the complete ignorance about what we consider even minimal sanitation.
This is a fatal formula.
The health care workers that survived, that came back to the U.S, were otherwise healthy people. Their chances for recovery were much higher than the sick folks in West Africa.
So how do we know who is sick before they’re terribly ill, so we can help them and protect others? Good question.
If you are wondering if there is a simple test, so people getting on airplanes and buses don’t spread it, the answer is NO.
The “test” they’re using right now is taking their temperature. And they are being asked, “Are you vomiting now, or do you have diarrhea now?”
There is a blood test, but nothing that can be done “in the field” for people to take to see if they’re infected. Basically, you cannot find out if someone has the virus until they show symptoms and at that point, exposing others without knowing.
Ebola is an Invisible Killer
It spreads very easily. An infected person doesn't need to touch you, or have you touch them; nor sneeze on you, or have sex with you. It’s their aura, the infected person’s atmosphere around them carries the moisture-born Ebola virus, their own contaminated body fluids. Yes, their sweat evaporating into the air around them is infected, and contagious.
Because of the virulence of this stuff, it doesn't act like measles or small pox or anything like that, something far, far worse. You can’t say that this is from person-to-person contact; it’s just not possible that it can be that way.
There are some safety measures, but no guarantees. In 1976 they quarantined the towns where there were Ebola epidemics, posting soldiers at every entrance, so people were not allowed in or out.
Today, when you see the pictures on television, the people are wearing HAZMAT suits, covered very tightly head to fit. Though I’m sure that even some of these people, when they are not wearing their HAZMAT suits, even the most minor exposure is more than 50% lethal. In the first Ebola epidemic, the death rate was 88%.
Most Africans are on a starvation diet so their immune systems are essentially not working, they don’t have enough proteins in their diet, they’re living on carbohydrates, bananas, or plantains, which are probably their main diet. They don’t even have rice, or wheat flour or anything like that. Their immune systems are absent. So anytime they get in contact with somebody with almost any type of disease, they get it.
For example, measles, which used to be considered a common childhood disease in the United States, can also be a lethal condition for an African child, and that goes for any of what we consider the common childhood diseases. They’re just almost waiting to die from the time they’re born.
Former President Bill Clinton appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart last week, and regarding the spread of Ebola, said that “we can stop the epidemic and let it burn itself out if we can isolate everybody that’s infected”.
Apparently there’s no way they can effectively isolate this. No way.
Case in point:
There are approximately 2 million Muslim faithful from about 160 countries that just concluded their religious pilgrimage to Mecca. Many are from Africa.
They are certain to have Ebola infected Muslims from West Africa, where about 50% of the population is Muslim, and anybody from Africa for that matter. If they go on their annual religious pilgrimage to Mecca, we could see absolutely unbelievable spread of this Ebola virus. I think more people make this pilgrimage every year. This is going to be a fantastic explosion. It’s almost certain to happen.
Also, we’re having this big medical conference in NYC now. People from West Africa could easily have brought the virus to New York City.
Getting on a plane in West Africa is like getting on a bus in downtown Portland. There’s no infrastructure for security on that level.
Containment may be an answer, but at this point is literally impossible.
Disease Travels with the Traveler
As an aside to this, there is only one west-east highway in Africa. It starts on the west coast and goes to the east coast, right on the Equator and this is the way the AIDS virus got spread through Africa. Africa as a country has the highest rate of AIDS in the world. Children have no parents, because they all got AIDS and died. This doesn't affect the children as much because AIDS is mainly a sexually-transmitted disease.
“All” of the truck drivers that went through from West Africa to East Africa had AIDS, they got it from the prostitutes on the truck routes and passed it along.
So, I think we’re facing something of a similar nature right now. Because a truck driver, even if he’s sick, has the flu, which is Ebola, is going to transmit it right across central Africa.
Ebola certainly can be transmitted sexually, but it is actually transmitted via the aura, or inhaling the atmosphere of an infected person.
There is no vaccine for Ebola, but there are several laboratories around the world trying to develop a vaccine.
Well, this is really strange. Now, I lived there through 1968, 69 & 70. I think the first Ebola epidemic was in 1976 and they've been working on a vaccine for 39 years.
They have had some luck with experimental drugs, but coming up with an answer for the public-at-large in a timely manner is another thing entirely.
That’s the worst part of it. Even Obama says between 100,000 and a million people will be infected. How long does it take to make a million doses of Ebola vaccine? It will take months.
After we got home to the States, we read about the Ebola virus. The east-west highway went right through Kampela, where I taught at the medical school.
My wife said, “I’m glad we left early enough to escape this.” No doubt about it.
This is a PLAGUE by Definition
Plague [pleyg] noun. 1. an epidemic disease that causes high mortality; pestilence.
In our recent history, Ebola is second-only to AIDS. A massive epidemic is a plague. Because it is so easy to contract, it is not far-fetched to think it may bypass AIDS in fatal cases. It’s much easier to get than AIDS.
Historically, I think the Bubonic Plague may be the #1 plague of all time, it was the cause of the Black Death that wiped out 30% -60% of Europe’s population in the 14th century. That is more in keeping with what the Ebola virus could mean to mankind.
The whole thing is, right now, for this current Ebola epidemic, the first victims were European-trained black doctors. And they were supposed to be the world’s experts on Ebola-type diseases; they were the first to die!
On July 29th, a well-known physician working on an Ebola study, Sheik Umar Khan, died from Ebola along with four of his other co-authors, all staff members at the Kenema hospital, before their study was published. Dr. Khan was Sierra Leone's only expert on hemorrhagic fever.
The study was published last Thursday, and is a celebrated piece of work. Read it here: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/345/6202/1369.
The study found that all 78 subjects had virus traceable to a single funeral. It also showed that the West African Ebola strain was quite different from a strain that has been circulating thousands of miles away in Central Africa since 1976, and that the 78 victims had two variants of the West African strain.
The current outbreak was likely caused by an Ebola virus lineage that has spread from Central Africa into West Africa, with the first viral transfer to humans in Guinea.
And from there, it’s almost a geometric situation, like this: 1-2-4-8-16-32-64... this is the most severe outbreak of Ebola since the discovery of the virus almost forty years ago!
Over the period of the last month, it has increased from those doctors, who definitely died from Ebola, to what is estimated right now, at close to 5,000 deaths. They’re multiplying, after 5,000 comes 10,000, comes 20,000 and so forth.
The CDC reported a total of 7,492 suspected cases and 3,439 deaths, as of October 1, 2014, and 10% of the dead have been health care workers.
In a 26 September statement, the WHO said, "The Ebola epidemic ravaging parts of West Africa is the most severe acute public health emergency seen in modern times. Never before in recorded history has a biosafety level four pathogen infected so many people so quickly, over such a broad geographical area, for so long."
So, they estimate, according to the CDC by the end of this year, there will probably be somewhere between 550,000 to 1.4 million infected people across the region who will either get sick, or get sick and die.
President Obama, speaking to the UN a few days ago, said somewhere between 100,000 and 1 million. Well, it’s going to go far, far beyond that.
Now, President Obama also said medical technicians from the US Army and the US public health service to build hospitals. I don’t know how big the hospitals will be, something like a mobile home.
Americans are concerned about our military going to Africa and coming back sick. Knowing that if they are in good health and have a strong immune system that they have a better chance in fighting the virus if they do contract it, but it will NOT protect them from the virus.
Americans being sent over there are in grave, grave danger. If even one of them gets the Ebola virus, what do you think happens next? Ponder that.
These hospitals that are on their way will have a total 1600 beds. This is a literal drop in the bucket compared to what is needed.
When the first Ebola victim gets into that mobile home-type hospital, the place will be infected from then on. And the local Africans have found out, that if they do get into one of these mobile hospitals or an actual hospital which they do have in the larger cities on the west coast of Africa, they’re going to DIE.
This is exactly what's happening, these people are refusing to go to hospitals and they even have police finding out where these victims are, and trying to put them in the hospitals. The reputation of their failed health care “system” precedes them; the people know that if they get into a hospital they will die, so they run away.
In running away they contaminate innumerable people and it moves in a geometric fashion, like I say, the numbers jump out of the ground almost.
This is a plague, by definition. Its infectiousness, virulence and the lethality are comparable to the Bubonic plague, and we all know what that meant to the world.
Articles for October 6, 2014 |