Washington, DC -- (ReleaseWire) -- 10/29/2014 --Nationally Syndicated Financial Myth Busting Radio Show with Host Dawn Bennett, CEO of Bennett Group Financial Services, LLC, on October 19, 2014 interviewed Dr. Jane Orient is a Tucson, Arizona based internal medicine physician and Executive Director of the Association of American Physicians & Surgeons, as well as she is currently the President Doctors for Disaster Preparedness.
Dr. Orient has had more than a hundred different papers published in scientific and popular literature, including risk assessment 'Natural and Technological Hazards and Non-Hazards' and 'Medical economics and Ethics.' Her latest article 'U.S. prepared for Ebola - ten patients at the time,' asks an important question: have you wondered why Ebola patients are being sent to Omaha, Nebraska?
Here is the interview with Dr. Jane Orient:
Dawn Bennett: I read that Northwestern university professor Alessandro Vespignani is running a computer simulation of infectious diseases outbreaks which warns that there could be as many as two dozen people in United States infected with Ebola by the end of the month. However, the CDC, the Centre for Disease Dynamics disagrees. Where do you come down on that?
Dr. Jane Orient: I think the CDC has demonstrably been at the state of denial for quite some time now and we do not have the capacity to handle a widespread outbreak and we are not taking the measures that we need to stop it. In fact, we are planning to continue to import cases from West Africa. We are sending our military there when they are almost certain to be exposed and some of them are going to be infected and bring it home to their families.
Dawn Bennett: You wrote this piece about how the US is able to care for Ebola only ten patients at the time, at a special facility in Omaha, Nebraska. Can you tell us about this unique facility?
Dr. Jane Orient: This was founded by a physician. He was inspired by the 9/11 attacks and said we really need to prepare ourselves for bioterrorism. So there is this BSL 4, that's bio-safety level 4 facility, which is what the World Health Organization has required to safely deal with this virus. There are only ten beds there, some of them are already taken up with laboratory equipment. They probably can't handle more than two patients because of the waste that's generated. There's probably only a total of eleven such beds in the entire United States.
Dawn Bennett: Do we need more facilities like this one in Nebraska? Do you expect more Ebola-like outbreaks in the future? Should all hospitals prepare for this type of quarantine and have a section of their hospital dedicated to a facility like this?
Dr. Jane Orient: I don't think that all hospitals can begin to aff ord it. By the way, we don't even have the good military capacity to transport patients safely if we had a case in West Africa. The administration dismantled this program in 2010.
Dawn Bennett: Looking back, should Thomas Eric Duncan actually have been sent to this facility in Nebraska instead of the Texas Hospital where he'd been treated?
Dr. Jane Orient: I think he might have done better had he been sent there and I also think that there wouldn't be nurses and who knows how many other contacts coming down with this disease, because BSL 2 facility, which is the best that Texas could do, is really not capable of keeping its workers safe.
Dawn Bennett: There's a clip that I want to play for you. It's actually Barack Obama and he was talking about how he was hugging and kissing the nurses and the doctors at Emery because of their work with patients with Ebola, and I am just wondering, after you listen to this, would you be doing the same thing?
President Barack Obama: "I want to use myself as an example just so that peo ple have a sense of the science here. I shook hands with, hugged, and kissed not the doctors, but a couple of the nurses at Emory because of the valiant work that they did in treating one of the patients. They followed the protocols, they knew what they were doing, and I felt perfectly safe doing so."
Dawn Bennett: So, would you be kissing the nurses and hugging the doctors?
Dr. Jane Orient: I don't think it's a good idea, but Eme ry is much better equipped to protect its workers than Dallas. Also, I don't know how long after the last exposure it was when he did this. One should wait at least 21 days and probably more. World Health Organization thinks that some people don't display symptoms until as long as 42 days after they're infected.
Dawn Bennett: How many people out there are actually comparing Ebola with AIDS. What do you make of that comparison?
Dr. Jane Orient: I think it is a highly misleading comparison. It is similar in that that the diseases are caused by a virus and the virus attacks the immune system. They are also similar in that the AIDS initially was accompanied by a huge amount of fear, but at this point, we know that medical people did not come down with AIDS from exposures. Surgeons who were in the operating rooms, sticking themselves, exposed to blood, did not have an outbreak of AIDS. AIDS is much, much less contagious than Ebola. It only takes one to ten Ebola viruses to cause an infection. Its safety requires not the universal precautions that seem to work for AIDS, but the BSL 4 facility, to protect people against the air, as well as against the contacts with any amount of virus.
Dawn Bennett: I'm not a doctor, but I was told by a doctor that viruses such as Ebola actually have genomes that are made from ribonucleic acid, and they are constantly mutating. So I'm wondering does an Ebola outbreak boost odds of mutation and helping it to spread, and then maybe even potentially making it airborne?
Dr. Jane Orient: Of course it does. RNA replication is as much accurate as DNA replication. So RNA viruses for example influenza do mutate very rapidly. When you've got the huge number of them out there replicating in victims, of course there are going to be some mutations. By airborne can be confusing because people think well you vomit on somebody is the virus airborne. What they're really talking about is in the tiny droplets that you can inhale and that remain suspended in the air for long, long periods of time. It's thought that Ebola virus is destroyed by the drying, but there is experimental evidence that 1 percent of the virus is still infectious after 90 minutes. So it really can be airborne, it's been shown in experimental circumstances with animals that it can be transmitted in this way. And that's why it’s a BFL 4 level virus.
Dawn Bennett: We know that it actually can be passed on to animals and the Spanish nurse's dog, after she got it, they actually killed that dog because it became infected. However, the Dallas nurse's dog was actually spared. So I am wondering which country do you think got it right? Can dogs transmit Ebola too?
Dr. Jane Orient: We don't know whether dogs can transmit it to humans, but it probably can transmit it to other dogs. Fully 30 percent of dogs in one area in Africa that had an outbreak, has antibodies to this virus. From what Ebola virus did in Africa between outbreaks in humans is it went back into reservoir species, such as bats. Well, if we had dogs reservoir species, where dogs were passing it along to each other, and humans came in contact with the dog and it was transmissible from dog species, or from contact with dogs to humans, we would never be able to extricate i t.
Dawn Bennett: There's been so much back and forth about how contagious Ebola is and President Obama said of course you can’t catch it if you're on a bus with someone who has it. Yet, the CDC is currently trying to get in touch with everyone who was on that flight with the second nurse. I'm wondering which one is it?
Dr. Jane Orient: Well, the CDC is now saying that you could transmit it on the bu s, or on an airplane, so that these people that their tracing are not allowed to use public transportation. On the other hand, they're allowing people from West Africa who may well have been exposed to use aircraft. So the CDC is being inconsistent and I think that a sensible policy would be to say, yes, you can catch it on the bus. It survives on the surfaces for as long as 6 days. So if somebody vomited on the surface, or sneezes on the surface, or touches the surface, the stuff that can be shed from the skin, then yes, it's contagious.
Dawn Bennett: So do you think the U.S. government should stop travel to the United States by citizens of plague nations?
Dr. Jane Orient: I think it should stop travel by anyone whether he's an American citizen or foreign national if that person has been in an area where the epidemic is raging and has not been isolated for at least 21 days.
Dawn Bennett: How would you grade the U.S. government's handling of Ebola crisis so far? Should we be looking to the government for direction?
Dr. Jane Orient: I think it's been appalling. I think it is reckless, it is irresponsible, it is dangerous and we really need to put a pressure on them to change it before it is too late.
Dawn Bennett: As a doctor specifically trained in internal medicine and disaster preparedness, how do you feel about Obama's appointment of lobbyist, PR guy, Ron Klain as the “Ebola czar?”
Dr. Jane Orient: I think that shows that he uses this as a political problem for his administration and for his party, not as a public health problem.
Dawn Bennett: So if you were named the Ebola czar, what's the first thing you would do?
Dr. Jane Orient: I would first use every means possible to stop the importation of this virus, whether by air, or through our open borders.
Dawn Bennett: I understood just by preparing for this interview that Ebola of course as you said has an incubation period of about three weeks in which patients actually remain asymptomatic, right. Can a patient remain asymptomatic throughout and therefore end up just infecting others and they don't even know they have it?
Dr. Jane Orient: Almost every other virus that we know about is transmissible during the incubation period, and in fact with influenza maybe even more, transmissible before the person get symptoms. So why should Ebola be any different? They are relying on fever of a certain threshold which keeps coming down as the threshold of being symptomatic. Yet, in Africa it has been shown that maybe 15 percent of people who are infected don’t get a fever.
Dawn Bennett: How is someone with Ebola actually treated? We know one man was given an experimental cure that apparently worked. But how are they being treated?
Dr. Jane Orient: I think that the main thing is called supportive care, which means keeping them from dying of dehydration before their body can fight off the virus. There are no specific FDA-approved treatments. There are some experimental ones such as giving plasma from a patient who has recovered and hope that it has antibodies that will prevent the virus from getting into the cells of the new patient. There is the ZMapp, which we don't have anymore, which is monoclonal of a ntibodies. There are some experimental drugs that are close to interfere with viral replication, but there's nothing that's been proved either safe or effective to treat this virus specifically. So we give them pain medicine, and we try to replace the fluids that they are losing rapidly through explosive vomiting and diarrhea.
Dawn Bennett: Are we close to a cure?
Dr. Jane Orient: How do we know how close we are to the cure? &n bsp;We don't even have any phase one testing going on on a wide scale for any drugs that I know of. There are some vaccines on the interface, but I think that doesn't do any good if you are already infected.
Dawn Bennett: Any other countries that are ahead of us on this?
Dr. Jane Orient: Not that I know of.
Dawn Bennett: I am also understanding that there is a lack of Ebola control training actually at hospitals because no one actually is in charge knowing what's going on. No one is really leading the force.
Dr. Jane Orient: Well, I think if you listen to the nurses they are not getting any training. A nurse that I know says they keep getting communications that there will be training, there will be protocols, but so far there has been none.
Dawn Bennett: Is it just this 'let it go' attitude that nothing can affect us here in America and we don't care? What is the reason for that?
Dr. Jane Orient: I think that there's a just a certain amount of arrogance that we have in this very advanced and sophisticated medical system. However, our public health is breaking down at the most basic level. Public health has overstretched in all kinds of other areas. Dallas doesn't even have enough public health people to do their own contact rations. CDC had to fly people in just to try and do that basic and fundamental procedure.
Dawn Bennett: I know you're a vocal critic of ObamaCare. Does that make sense or more sense if hospitals actually communicate among themselves and not rely on the United States government at all?
Dr. Jane Orient: It looks like the way the United States government is going that that's probably true. We don't have any expert virologist even giving us advice from the CDC, that's coming from persons who are not nearly the specialists in that. The advice has so far been wrong.
Dawn Bennett: Why would a place like Texas Health Presbyterian in Dallas actually keep a patient like this if they weren't set up for it?
Dr. Jane Orient: That is a very good question and I think now they have decided to move the nurses elsewhere.
Dawn Bennett: Yes, by commercial plane! What were they thinking?!
Dr. Jane Orient: The city dismantled the military transport that would safely evacuate patients who had a really deadly and highly contagious disease.
Dawn Bennett: Have you been contacted by anybody in the government or CDC to help them with this issue?
Dr. Jane Orient: No, I have not, but they really should contact first-class virologist.
Dawn Bennett: Yes. You are the President of the Doctors for Disaster Preparedness; you would think that they would want some more insights since we are handling it so poorl y.
Dr. Jane Orient: I think they want insight only from people who are on their side of the political spectrum because as they view it mainly as a political problem.
Dawn Bennett: These hazmat suits that people are wearing, is this going to be enough to protect them?
Dr. Jane Orient: Depends on what kind of hazmat suit you're talking about. If it's got respirator that brings filtered air that the person breaths and so he's not breathing the air from the outside. Ebola is just the chemical compound, that's all. It is a very highly lethal virus. It seems to be well adapted to infecting people and proliferating itself.
Dawn Bennett: NHI Director here in Washington D.C. said they could have a cure, but their budget was cut. What do you think about that?
Dr. Jane Orient: Well, their budget was actually increased, but they were spending it all on social norming and motorcycle helmets and other things that have nothing to do with their main mission, which is to protect us against the contagious diseases.
Dawn Bennett: Do you think this episode or this situation with Ebola is actually going to make us rethink about these types of diseases and this type of possible pandemic issue that could actually destroy our population?
Dr. Jane Orient: I think if it doesn't, we're doomed. Ebola has been studied for decades by people who feared it as a great biological warfare weapon, and people who think that it could wipe out 90 percent of the human population of the world.
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Dawn Bennett is CEO and Founder of Bennett Group Financial Services. She hosts a national radio program called Financial Myth Busting http://www.financialmythbusting.com.
She discusses educational topics and events in the financial news, along with her thoughts on the economy, financial markets, investments, and more with her live guests, who have included Rock Legend Ted Nugent, as well as Steve Forbes and Grover Norquist. The show is a great complement to Dawn’s monthly investing seminars that take place at Tysons Corner in McLean, VA, where she discusses investing.
She can be reached on Twitter @DawnBennettFMB or on Facebook Financial Myth Busting with Dawn Bennett or dbennett@bennett groupfinancial.com