With the discovery of a fourth victim of Ebola (the number of American cases of Ebola now ties with the number of Americans who have been married to Rush Limbaugh), the hysteria machine and political rhetoric is ramping up. This situation is so desperate that Rand Paul recently invoked a major scourge of humanity for analogy: according to Paul, Ebola is more more contagious than AIDS.
Well, what he meant was HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus), since AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is the symptom, and HIV is the virus. But compared to to the fractal wrongness of his claim, that’s almost pedantic.
While stumping for Scott Brown, Paul talked about how “direct contact” is “defined as three feet of someone” and how “it’s highly contagious.” Conservatives eat up fear and misinformation; spreading fear and misery is as much a core value of the right-wing as racism and misogyny. He said that it reminded him of “AIDS” and that it was “more contagious than AIDS.”
To start with, Ebola is spread is through bodily fluids, and it requires some method to get into your body — be it a cut or just carelessly rubbing your eye with the virus on your hands. You prevent it by washing your hands. It actually isn’t an easy virus to catch, compared to other viruses like the flu. Our wondrous for-profit healthcare system dropped the ball with Duncan and put the nurses at risk, but let’s face it; you don’t get to be number one in wait times for elective surgeries like Botox injections by tending to Ebola patients.
Some virology for you: Ebola is a single-strand negative-sense RNA virus. Once it’s inside of the cell, it uses a protein to copy itself and mimic messenger-RNA (mRNA) so the virus is replicated by the host’s cell. The full cycle of Ebola is unknown, since it’s so hard to study. Instead of HIV, Ebola is more closely related to two other single-stranded negative-sense RNA viruses that you probably know very well: they fall under the family Paramyxoviridae but you know them as Measles and Mumps. So the anti-vaxxers out there can shove that in their pipe and smoke it; the two viruses you play with wearing kid gloves are distant relatives of Ebola.
I’m sure Paul knows this, though. He’s a doctor, an ophthalmologist, even (certified by an agency that he incorporated and heads, just like Ayn Rand intended). Eyes, Ebola, same thing. They both start with “E,” which is the grade I’m giving Paul for his failed attempt at fear mongering.
You can listen to Paul’s remarks below.