Life as an Extreme Sport

Know Your Species: SUDV vs. EBOV

Last night, it was confirmed that at least some of the hemorrhagic deaths in a remote area of the Democratic Republic of Congo are from an ebolavirus–but it looks like it’s species Sudan ebolavirus (SUDV), rather than the one ravaging Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia, and trying to get a foothold in Nigeria: species Zaire ebolavirus (EBOV). Technically, EBOV is the only member virus within the species Zaire ebolavirus, but let’s keep it simple. …simpler. In other words, while the two outbreaks involve members of the same family (Filoviridae) and the same genus (Ebolavirus), they are not the same species. It might help to think about cats.Ian Mackay uses cars, and goes into much more detail. But frankly, it’s the internet. Cats are the obvious go-to. Like these guys: While these cats are both members of the same family (Felidae) and the same genus (Felis), their species are different. In fact,

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No, American Doctors, You Don’t Need Tyvek In Case of Ebola

One of the more interesting aspects of the constant media coverage of the latest Ebola outbreak has been watching how developed nations like the United States, Britain, and Canada assume that the entire world is Just Like Them. The Seattle Times had a charming example of this yesterday, with American doctors questioning the CDC guidelines for how to care for an Ebola patient in America. An example of the ignorance on display comes from Tulsa, Oklahoma emergency physician Justin Fairless, who says that health care workers in West African nations are wearing the highest level of protection, but the CDC recommendation lets us go down to the lowest level of protection. Now, the CDC has repeatedly said that caring for patients in African nations is quite different than caring for patients in America, Canada, other developed nations, but apparently Dr. Fairless and others need a pictorial show-and-tell to understand that

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Paternalism, Procedure, Precedent: The Ethics of Using Unproven Therapies in an Ebola Outbreak

The WHO medical ethics panel convened Monday to discuss the ethics of using experimental treatments for Ebola in West African nations affected by the disease. I am relieved to note that this morning they released their unanimous recommendation: “it is ethical to offer unproven interventions with as yet unknown efficacy and adverse effects, as potential treatment or prevention.” There are, of course, the common caveats about ethical criteria guiding the interventions, but ultimately the recommendation has saved me from a tortured “WHO’s on first”-style commentary.[note]For other commentary on the committee composition, see Udo Schuklenk’s short, sweet, and to the point commentary; you can also read his reaction to their statement here.[/note] I’m sure we all appreciate that. But just because the WHO recommendation follows what I’ve been arguing for the last 10-odd days doesn’t mean that the argument is actually over. In fact, as far as I can tell, it’s

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Wielding a Red Pen: Correcting a Fear-mongering Ebola Piece with Facts

If you catch me on Twitter, or read the fantastic Red Ink, you might have seen my corrections and edits to the first page of a genuinely awful, fear-mongering piece on Ebola that was inexplicably published by Pacific Standard.Per policy, I won’t drive traffic to horrible pieces. You can find it on your own relatively easily. You might have also realized why: I was forbidden from grading in red ink when I TA’d (“did you dip that in red ink?”); I was consistently voted most likely to become a doctor or teacher in those elementary school “most likely” contests. Sorry about that. Well, at least the second one; handwriting has never been my strong suit. Due to said possibly challenging handwriting, I figured I would go ahead and expand on my comments here.Okay, most of this is taken from a Facebook rant the other day that accompanied a snapshot of

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