Cogitation: Hubris Will Kill You!

Cogitation is concerted thought, reflection, meditation, or contemplation. “Cogitation” highlights cognitive ideas that cross our paths. These ideas and thoughts don’t really warrant full articles. They are important enough to be shared as food for thought before forgotten.

Cogitation: Hubris Will Kill You!

hu·bris: noun \ˈhyü-brəs\ : a great or foolish amount of pride or confidence via Merriam-Webster.com

Prepping For EbolaThe death of Thomas Eric Duncan, the foreign national who recently passed away in Dallas, becoming the first US ebola death, is raising alarms. What I find even more alarming is the CDC’s, and US administration’s public response to his death and the subsequent infection of not one, but two of his nurses as well as the general threat that Ebola poses to our nation and the world.  At every turn the CDC and administration’s statements have turned out to be untrue, or patently false.  The most glaring examples of this are the following:

  • The threat of Ebola coming to American shores is small:  Less than two weeks later Thomas Eric Duncan was dead in Dallas and several potential cases are being monitored in Dallas, TX,  Atlanta, GA and Kansas City, KS.
  • The threat of others being infected is small:  One of Thomas Eric Duncan’s nurses has contracted Ebola, and his family and those that are around him are being closely monitored and there is a real threat that they have been infected as well.
  • The chances of health care workers becoming infected with Ebola is almost non-existent:  Two nurses in Dallas have been confirmed to have contracted Ebola, with another 70 possibly exposed.  No one is 100% certain is was human error that caused the nurses to get infected, and there are conflicting reports that the virus may have mutated so as to be airborne.

At every turn officials have had to back pedal, or “clarify” what they previous meant to say. In at least one case Canadian officials actually edited info out of a web page.  This was an apparent attempt to make the info fit the meme, as well as to nip any panic in the bud.

Do I think this is all some sinister plot, or cover up?  No, I do not.  I do think is that it is a shining example of hubris, demonstrated by people who feel they are smarter, more informed, and simply better at doing things than every one else. The way they see the world is the ‘way it is.’ The way they say things should be run is the ‘best way;’ without exception. In their eyes, their systems and plans are infallible, as if believing that will make it so. In the best of circumstances, this is just irratating; maddingly so at times. In dire times and emergencies, say like when facing a potential epidemic/pandemic with a 50%+ death rate, that type of hubris will kill you.

Don’t think that this is soley an indictment of current adminstrations and beauracracies. My comment translates to the individual, as well. More so, in fact.  On a personal level, if you are closed minded and believe that your systems and procedures are infallible, then you are setting yourself up for failure. Do that in the wrong situation and you or others may very well die!

The Most Severe Health Emergency of Modern Times

[The 2014 Ebola outbreak is] the most severe, acute health emergency seen in modern times…

World Health Organization via News from The Associated Press

Also see the World Health Organization’s Ebola Virus Disease Page

Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear Incidents & Hazards

Andrew’s Note:  For today’s lesson in preparedness we return to our U.S. military manuals, notably the MULTI-SERVICE DOCTRINE FOR CHEMICAL, BIOLOGICAL, RADIOLOGICAL, AND NUCLEAR OPERATIONS , FM 3-11, MCWP 3-37.1, NWP 3-11, AFTTP 3-2.42 dated July 2011, Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited.  Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear is abbreviated as CBRN.  Today we introduce the types of incidents and the introduce the hazards.  Check back later this week as we go into more detail on those hazards.

INCIDENTS

1-19. A CBRN incident is any occurrence involving the emergence of CBRN hazards resulting from the use of CBRN weapons or devices, the emergence of secondary hazards arising from counterforce targeting,  or the release of toxic industrial material into the environment. A CBRN incident is characterized on the basis of the intent, opportunity, and capability of the occurrence. There are three basic reasons why a CBRN incident happens, regardless of the type and nature: (more…)

Smallpox – A Biological Agent

Biological agents are pathogens and toxins derived from nature that target living organisms (humans, animals or vegetation) to kill or incapacitate.  Some biological perils are also suitable for weaponization and use in biological warfare, biological terrorism or economic attacks in the case of pathogens targeting agricultural industries.  Today’s hyper-connected world is particularly vulnerable to the spread of natural or man-made (or assisted) biological risks.  Knowing a pathogen or toxin’s capabilities, symptoms and possible treatments can give you the edge in preventing or knowing when there’s been exposure and should help you seek early treatment from a trained medical professional.  Today we look a little more in depth at smallpox.

What is Smallpox: (more…)

It’s Time for That Once a Year Health Prep

It’s time for that once a year health prep again…I mean the seasonal flu shot.  The Army Reserve orders me to ‘take my medicine’ (yes, it’s a lawful order) every year…but I’d get one anyway. In fact, I believe that the flu shot is so important that I pay for all my employees to get their flu shots as well.  Many health insurance programs pay for the entire vaccine…but even if you have to pay for it yourself…it’s a cheap prep at about $25.  You don’t even have to go to the doctor’s office to get it anymore…you can find a vaccination site near you by searching at www.flu.gov.

The shot (or nasal spray) includes the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC’s) three best guesses of the strains that your body will need help fighting off this year.  Here are some additional flu facts from the CDC: (more…)

Beware the Fair!

With county fair season in full swing there’s evidence of a outbreak of an H1N1 related swine flu that’s transmissible to humans.  While this particular flu is currently a relatively mild strain this is a reminder that the flu is a threat year round.

US health officials on Friday warned the public to be careful around pigs after an outbreak of flu among visitors to county fairs.

The virus does not appear to have evolved to the point where it spreads easily among humans, but it does contain a gene from the pandemic H1N1 flu that sickened millions worldwide in 2009 and 2010.

“We are concerned that… may confer the potential for the virus to infect or spread among humans to a greater extent,” said Joseph Bresee, an influenza epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

…Bresee urged people to go to the doctor if they feel flu symptoms after coming into contact with pigs so that public health officials can better track the outbreak.”What we’re really going to be looking for is evidence that the virus has made that change to spread efficiently among humans,” he explained. “So far we haven’t seen that.”

via US officials warn of swine flu outbreak at fairs – Yahoo! News Canada.

…and remember that the any flu is only few mutations away from becoming a pandemic monster like the world experienced in  1918-1919, (~675,000 deaths in the U.S. and up to 50 million deaths worldwide), 1957-1958 (69,800 deaths just in the U.S.), 1968-1969 (~33,800 deaths), 2009-2010 (~8,870 and 18,300 deaths)…just to name a few.  Estimates per the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

To read more about cross species flu transmission and mutation read this recent article Flu That Leapt From Birds to Seals is Studied for Human Threat from the New York Times

Ebola Breaks Out Again in Uganda

8/2/12 Update:  Total of  30 Ebola cases in Uganda now including five from Kibaale prison.

The Ebola virus was first detected in 1976 in the central African nation of Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo). The virus is named after a river in that country. There are five strains of Ebola viruses, all named after the areas where they were found: Zaire, Sudan, Cote d’Ivoire, Bundibugyo and Reston, according to the WHO.

via Ebola outbreak suspected among Uganda prisoners – CNN.com.

I’d forgotten that there was an Ebola strain named after Reston (yes that Reston… in Virginia).  Ebola has broken out in the U.S. three times according to the Centers for Disease Control in 1989, 1990 and 1996.  Each outbreak took place at a monkey quarantine facility and luckily there no fatalities.  As scary as Ebola is… the real fear is that it could mutate into a more contagious pathogen.

(more…)

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