A Tale Of Three Nations

As the US flirts with Ebola panic, it’s worth noting that Nigeria – more corrupt than Chicago but probably not Camden, with ethnic and social divisions that would make the most hardened academic grievance-monger yak up her skull, and a nation that as a whole is like a Detroit that rarely ends – has managed to stop its Ebola outbreak pretty much cold.  20 were infected, and eight died – a tragedy, sure, but since the outbreak occurred in Lagos, a city of 21 million that is among the least hygenic metropolitan areas in the world, that seems fairly miraculous.   

Nigeria did it by doing the public-heath blocking and tackling that has stanched epidemics from cholera to malaria to dengue fever; isolating the infected and the infection, monitoring the exposed, practicing basic hygiene around the ill and the potentially ill. 

They knuckled down and did what needed to be done. 

Now, the US is one of the healthiest nations on earth.  Perhaps too healthy – modern parents’ mania for germ-killing may be hurting their childrens’ immune systems.  Worse, while some among our public health community are well aware of the dangers a virus like Ebola could cause, it seems there were several major breakdowns in the handling of the first case, Thomas Duncan, a Liberian living in Dallas. 

Will the CDC and the other public health authorities react appropriately to the outbreak?  Especially given that the CDC answers to an Administration that clearly values political correctness over competence? 

Let’s just say that this is one area where I’d love to think government was as competent as big government’s proponents tell us it is. 

The track record is mixed, of course. 

Through much of the last 100 years, between sound public health and public information, and world-leading research (thank you, free enterprise!), most epidemic diseases have been contained, and many former scourges have been nearly eradicated. 

And yet when the AIDS epidemic broke out, it quickly escaped the public health agencies’ ability to control it.  Part of it was the government’s response; in one of three mistakes he made as President, he kept the government’s response low-key. 

Of course, there was plenty of blame to shame.  Some countries contained AIDS using sound, traditional public health practices.  Cuba contained its outbreak far more quickly and effectively than the US, using sound, traditional public health techniques including quarantining the infected…

…which were politically untenable in the US; as the gay rights movement gained traction, the idea of focusing public health efforts on gay culture, much less quarantining gay male patients, as the Cubans did), became politically incorrect. 

(And since some liberal will no doubt read the above as “Mitch Berg calls for quarantining teh gay” – I’d say the same thing if there were a 100% lethal, contagious, viral disease that spread via the behavior of straight Presbyterian conservatives; public health is public health). 

Will the Obama Administration react any better to this crisis than they did the last several?  There’s always hope.  The President certainly isn’t getting useful advice from some of his supporters (hint to MSNBC hosts and other illiterates; the CDC needs a surgeon general to react to an epidemic about like the IRS needs a director to process your 1040 form; Obama needs to quit politicizing public health.  Oh, wait – there it is again!).

Fingers crossed.

13 thoughts on “A Tale Of Three Nations

  1. It’d be hard to get modern Americans to agree to a quarantine, unless, perhaps we could find a sensible man, a man of integrity, even if he were on the other side of the aisle . . .


    HHH was wrong about a lot of things, not the least of which was failing to eat his hat after 1964, but this was moment of leadership.

  2. Ever get the feeling that Obama’s goal is not not to preserve and protect the United States, but to check off the boxes on a liberal scorecard? What other reason would there be to not block travel to the affected countries?

  3. Jeb Bush is one of the few 2016 GOP ‘hopeful’ that isn’t running around like some hysterical old hen spouting nonsense.

  4. Look at cute little Emery — brim full of confidence in government. He’s the only left in the US, I think.

  5. Sorry, Emery, that was snarkier than it should have been.
    People have record low confidence in the federal government to solve problems. I don’t believe that this lack of confidence is undeserved.

  6. Emery doesn’t take things personal, or worry about embarrassment. Because at the end of the day, Emery just isn’t me. Therefore, in a very important sense, I am not that emotionally invested in the identity and perception of my creation in the wider world. If people don’t like (hate, despise, scorn, belittle) Emery, I can shrug and tell myself, “So what? Let them pound sand. That isn’t me they’re attacking anyway. This is very liberating, let me assure you.

    It is always wise to remember we are less interesting, intelligent, and entertaining than we would like to be.

    “The person who experiences greatness must have a feeling for the myth he is in. He must reflect what is projected upon him. And he must have a strong sense of the sardonic. This is what uncouples him from belief in his own pretensions. The sardonic is all that permits him to move within himself. Without this quality, even occasional greatness will destroy a man.”
    — Frank Herbert, Dune

  7. Emery doesn’t take things personal

    Well, that does it. EmeryTheUSAHater, our little soci@list douchebag troll is talking of himself in third person. I was wondering when he would fall completely off the ledge…

  8. jpa:
    I see the troll in you still strong.
    Get out your mother’s basement. Now go outside. Maybe visit an orchard, pick a few apples and breath some fresh air. ;^)

  9. Emery, maybe….just maybe….you could clarify what is so wild and crazy about suggesting a quarantine when we’ve got a very nasty, clearly communicable disease that has come to our shores via open borders.

  10. bikebubba, an effective quarantine would imply that national borders are important, even indispensable.
    I leave it as exercise for the reader to determine why Obama places his faith in federal bureaucracies rather than borders.

  11. OK, Emery, so the historic way of dealing with epidemics is now, in your mind, political posturing….mmmmkay, by that measure, exactly what common sense measure can not be dismissed the same way?

    Sorry, but you’ve just done a big genetic fallacy. Maybe it’s time to review your logic, then come and share your thoughts? We ought to be reviewing the idea of a quarantine on whether it would be easily implemented (answer; yes, stop flights to West Africa), whether it would be effective in keeping this disease out of the country (again, yes), and whether the cost would be in line with the benefits–I’d argue once again, yes.

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