Israeli alarm bells: If IS uses Ebola you'll want to duck and cover in the Levant!

Published October 13th, 2014 - 15:27 GMT

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A new conspiracy theory has been juicing content on the internet’s more dubious “news agencies” with reports that Islamic State (IS) terrorists may send infected jihadists to spread the Ebola virus to the West. Now U.S. national security and health experts are giving credence to the possibility of low-tech biological terror attacks.

The Israeli News Agency (INA), self-described as Israel's first online news organization, initially reported that dozens of IS fighters in Syria have fallen ill with symptoms of the disease, allegedly contracted in African training camps. Citing confirmation by "Israeli security sources", the story raised prospects of IS moving into biological warfare. Continue reading below »

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What is ebola? Of five recognized ebola viruses, four cause human disease.  Outbreaks typically trace to a single case where a human gets the bug from an infected animal, then passes to other people. The current outbreak began in 2013 in Guinea and is the most severe ever recorded in terms of infections and fatalities and it’s spreading.
Reduce

Image 1 of 15:  1 / 15What is ebola? Of five recognized ebola viruses, four cause human disease. Outbreaks typically trace to a single case where a human gets the bug from an infected animal, then passes to other people. The current outbreak began in 2013 in Guinea and is the most severe ever recorded in terms of infections and fatalities and it’s spreading.

Enlarge
Why all the hoopla? Ebola has infected at least 8,000 people in Africa and killed about 4,000, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Barack Obama called the outbreak 'a threat to global security' requiring a 'global response'. With an 80% death rate, the outbreak is exposing woefully inadequate state health systems.
Reduce

Image 2 of 15:  2 / 15Why all the hoopla? Ebola has infected at least 8,000 people in Africa and killed about 4,000, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Barack Obama called the outbreak "a threat to global security" requiring a "global response". With an 80% death rate, the outbreak is exposing woefully inadequate state health systems.

Enlarge
How did it start? WHO says that “Patient Zero” - the initial source of this Ebola epidemic - was likely infected by direct contact with an infected animal through hunting, butchering or preparing wild animal meat. It’s also possible that close contact with infected bats or small rodents passes on the disease.
Reduce

Image 3 of 15:  3 / 15How did it start? WHO says that “Patient Zero” - the initial source of this Ebola epidemic - was likely infected by direct contact with an infected animal through hunting, butchering or preparing wild animal meat. It’s also possible that close contact with infected bats or small rodents passes on the disease.

Enlarge
Ebola is spread through close contact with the bodily fluids of someone who has the disease. The virus is present in vomit, urine, excrement, tears and saliva. Caretakers for sick patients are at highest risk of infection, but anyone who comes into close proximity with contaminated items is also at risk.
Reduce

Image 4 of 15:  4 / 15Ebola is spread through close contact with the bodily fluids of someone who has the disease. The virus is present in vomit, urine, excrement, tears and saliva. Caretakers for sick patients are at highest risk of infection, but anyone who comes into close proximity with contaminated items is also at risk.

Enlarge
Cleaning up is risky business! Patient bedding, clothes and all clinical waste must be incinerated. Medical equipment and surrounding surfaces must be continually decontaminated. Flu viruses can live for hours on hard surfaces like doorknobs, tables, and desks. It's unclear how long the Ebola virus remains active in the environment.
Reduce

Image 5 of 15:  5 / 15Cleaning up is risky business! Patient bedding, clothes and all clinical waste must be incinerated. Medical equipment and surrounding surfaces must be continually decontaminated. Flu viruses can live for hours on hard surfaces like doorknobs, tables, and desks. It's unclear how long the Ebola virus remains active in the environment.

Enlarge
Symptoms? Before an epidemic is noticed, Ebola can be mistaken for malaria, dysentery, or flu. It starts with classics: weakness, fever, diarrhea, and vomiting. It quickly ratchets up to a more vile aspect - bleeding organs. Patients can bleed from the eyes, ears, nose, mouth and rectum.  Bodily fluids may also be tainted with virus-riddled blood.
Reduce

Image 6 of 15:  6 / 15Symptoms? Before an epidemic is noticed, Ebola can be mistaken for malaria, dysentery, or flu. It starts with classics: weakness, fever, diarrhea, and vomiting. It quickly ratchets up to a more vile aspect - bleeding organs. Patients can bleed from the eyes, ears, nose, mouth and rectum. Bodily fluids may also be tainted with virus-riddled blood.

Enlarge
Nature cooks up another way sex can kill us! Ebola lives in body fluids, and sex is the biggest body fluid swap-meet.  Scientists say that the virus can remain in semen up to three months after a patient recovers, even if doctors confirm that the patient’s blood is virus-free. So Ebola survivors?  Avoid sex.  All others? Avoid Ebola survivors!
Reduce

Image 7 of 15:  7 / 15Nature cooks up another way sex can kill us! Ebola lives in body fluids, and sex is the biggest body fluid swap-meet. Scientists say that the virus can remain in semen up to three months after a patient recovers, even if doctors confirm that the patient’s blood is virus-free. So Ebola survivors? Avoid sex. All others? Avoid Ebola survivors!

Enlarge
Killer from the grave? Live viruses still thrive within a corpse; so the dead can pass Ebola to the living. Traditional funeral practices that involve close contact with the deceased are prime opportunities for viral spread. Health officials recommend that only those trained in handling infectious disease manage burials in epidemic zones.
Reduce

Image 8 of 15:  8 / 15Killer from the grave? Live viruses still thrive within a corpse; so the dead can pass Ebola to the living. Traditional funeral practices that involve close contact with the deceased are prime opportunities for viral spread. Health officials recommend that only those trained in handling infectious disease manage burials in epidemic zones.

Enlarge
Tips for medical workers and journalists in outbreak areas? Limit contact with victims to essential medical care only.  Always use protective gear that can’t be breached by the virus, is regularly disinfected and properly disposed of. State-of-the-art Ebola kit includes double gloves, respirator, mask, goggles, full body suit and boots.
Reduce

Image 9 of 15:  9 / 15Tips for medical workers and journalists in outbreak areas? Limit contact with victims to essential medical care only. Always use protective gear that can’t be breached by the virus, is regularly disinfected and properly disposed of. State-of-the-art Ebola kit includes double gloves, respirator, mask, goggles, full body suit and boots.

Enlarge
Those Ebola suits are hot and heavy, with internal temperatures topping 100ºF. Suiting up takes up to 15 minutes and they must be changed hourly with the help of a designated 'buddy', also in protective gear. During the process, both people are sprayed with chlorine to protect against accidental contamination.
Reduce

Image 10 of 15:  10 / 15Those Ebola suits are hot and heavy, with internal temperatures topping 100ºF. Suiting up takes up to 15 minutes and they must be changed hourly with the help of a designated "buddy", also in protective gear. During the process, both people are sprayed with chlorine to protect against accidental contamination.

Enlarge
Follow medical advice, not myths! Doctors in Guinea tell of rumors that eating raw onions or drinking condensed milk keeps Ebola away. Nutritious food is always good, but it’s no magic bullet against this deadly bug. (People are advised to avoid bushmeat.) Several Nigerians drank sea water and died, believing it would ward off the virus.
Reduce

Image 11 of 15:  11 / 15Follow medical advice, not myths! Doctors in Guinea tell of rumors that eating raw onions or drinking condensed milk keeps Ebola away. Nutritious food is always good, but it’s no magic bullet against this deadly bug. (People are advised to avoid bushmeat.) Several Nigerians drank sea water and died, believing it would ward off the virus.

Enlarge
The Arab habit of (dry!) kiss greetings is the safer way to go now that handshakes are suspect. An old-fashioned hand scrub with soap and water can help stop Ebola’s spread. Diluted bleach and alcohol-based hand sanitizers work to decontaminate skin too - both disrupt the envelope of this single-stranded RNA virus.
Reduce

Image 12 of 15:  12 / 15The Arab habit of (dry!) kiss greetings is the safer way to go now that handshakes are suspect. An old-fashioned hand scrub with soap and water can help stop Ebola’s spread. Diluted bleach and alcohol-based hand sanitizers work to decontaminate skin too - both disrupt the envelope of this single-stranded RNA virus.

Enlarge
You can immediately wash away an infected droplet on your skin with proper cleansers, but eyes are another story. Sneezes in close proximity can spray fluids directly into others’ eyes. Mucous membranes inside the mouth and nose are also effective pathways for transmission, as is broken skin.
Reduce

Image 13 of 15:  13 / 15You can immediately wash away an infected droplet on your skin with proper cleansers, but eyes are another story. Sneezes in close proximity can spray fluids directly into others’ eyes. Mucous membranes inside the mouth and nose are also effective pathways for transmission, as is broken skin.

Enlarge
Two experimental vaccines appear promising and could be made available as early as November. Priority inoculations go to health workers; it could take months to reach sufficient production levels to respond to global demand. WHO has indicated that blood from Ebola survivors can also be used to treat newly infected patients.
Reduce

Image 14 of 15:  14 / 15Two experimental vaccines appear promising and could be made available as early as November. Priority inoculations go to health workers; it could take months to reach sufficient production levels to respond to global demand. WHO has indicated that blood from Ebola survivors can also be used to treat newly infected patients.

Enlarge
Avoiding Ebola boils down to four simple steps: if you suspect someone of having Ebola, don’t touch them; if you think someone has died from Ebola, don’t touch them; regularly wash your hands with soap and clean water; and avoid hunting, touching and eating bushmeat. Pretty basic dance steps for most of us in the Middle East.
Reduce

Image 15 of 15:  15 / 15Avoiding Ebola boils down to four simple steps: if you suspect someone of having Ebola, don’t touch them; if you think someone has died from Ebola, don’t touch them; regularly wash your hands with soap and clean water; and avoid hunting, touching and eating bushmeat. Pretty basic dance steps for most of us in the Middle East.

Enlarge

1

What is ebola? Of five recognized ebola viruses, four cause human disease.  Outbreaks typically trace to a single case where a human gets the bug from an infected animal, then passes to other people. The current outbreak began in 2013 in Guinea and is the most severe ever recorded in terms of infections and fatalities and it’s spreading.

Image 1 of 15What is ebola? Of five recognized ebola viruses, four cause human disease. Outbreaks typically trace to a single case where a human gets the bug from an infected animal, then passes to other people. The current outbreak began in 2013 in Guinea and is the most severe ever recorded in terms of infections and fatalities and it’s spreading.

2

Why all the hoopla? Ebola has infected at least 8,000 people in Africa and killed about 4,000, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Barack Obama called the outbreak 'a threat to global security' requiring a 'global response'. With an 80% death rate, the outbreak is exposing woefully inadequate state health systems.

Image 2 of 15Why all the hoopla? Ebola has infected at least 8,000 people in Africa and killed about 4,000, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Barack Obama called the outbreak "a threat to global security" requiring a "global response". With an 80% death rate, the outbreak is exposing woefully inadequate state health systems.

3

How did it start? WHO says that “Patient Zero” - the initial source of this Ebola epidemic - was likely infected by direct contact with an infected animal through hunting, butchering or preparing wild animal meat. It’s also possible that close contact with infected bats or small rodents passes on the disease.

Image 3 of 15How did it start? WHO says that “Patient Zero” - the initial source of this Ebola epidemic - was likely infected by direct contact with an infected animal through hunting, butchering or preparing wild animal meat. It’s also possible that close contact with infected bats or small rodents passes on the disease.

4

Ebola is spread through close contact with the bodily fluids of someone who has the disease. The virus is present in vomit, urine, excrement, tears and saliva. Caretakers for sick patients are at highest risk of infection, but anyone who comes into close proximity with contaminated items is also at risk.

Image 4 of 15Ebola is spread through close contact with the bodily fluids of someone who has the disease. The virus is present in vomit, urine, excrement, tears and saliva. Caretakers for sick patients are at highest risk of infection, but anyone who comes into close proximity with contaminated items is also at risk.

5

Cleaning up is risky business! Patient bedding, clothes and all clinical waste must be incinerated. Medical equipment and surrounding surfaces must be continually decontaminated. Flu viruses can live for hours on hard surfaces like doorknobs, tables, and desks. It's unclear how long the Ebola virus remains active in the environment.

Image 5 of 15Cleaning up is risky business! Patient bedding, clothes and all clinical waste must be incinerated. Medical equipment and surrounding surfaces must be continually decontaminated. Flu viruses can live for hours on hard surfaces like doorknobs, tables, and desks. It's unclear how long the Ebola virus remains active in the environment.

6

Symptoms? Before an epidemic is noticed, Ebola can be mistaken for malaria, dysentery, or flu. It starts with classics: weakness, fever, diarrhea, and vomiting. It quickly ratchets up to a more vile aspect - bleeding organs. Patients can bleed from the eyes, ears, nose, mouth and rectum.  Bodily fluids may also be tainted with virus-riddled blood.

Image 6 of 15Symptoms? Before an epidemic is noticed, Ebola can be mistaken for malaria, dysentery, or flu. It starts with classics: weakness, fever, diarrhea, and vomiting. It quickly ratchets up to a more vile aspect - bleeding organs. Patients can bleed from the eyes, ears, nose, mouth and rectum. Bodily fluids may also be tainted with virus-riddled blood.

7

Nature cooks up another way sex can kill us! Ebola lives in body fluids, and sex is the biggest body fluid swap-meet.  Scientists say that the virus can remain in semen up to three months after a patient recovers, even if doctors confirm that the patient’s blood is virus-free. So Ebola survivors?  Avoid sex.  All others? Avoid Ebola survivors!

Image 7 of 15Nature cooks up another way sex can kill us! Ebola lives in body fluids, and sex is the biggest body fluid swap-meet. Scientists say that the virus can remain in semen up to three months after a patient recovers, even if doctors confirm that the patient’s blood is virus-free. So Ebola survivors? Avoid sex. All others? Avoid Ebola survivors!

8

Killer from the grave? Live viruses still thrive within a corpse; so the dead can pass Ebola to the living. Traditional funeral practices that involve close contact with the deceased are prime opportunities for viral spread. Health officials recommend that only those trained in handling infectious disease manage burials in epidemic zones.

Image 8 of 15Killer from the grave? Live viruses still thrive within a corpse; so the dead can pass Ebola to the living. Traditional funeral practices that involve close contact with the deceased are prime opportunities for viral spread. Health officials recommend that only those trained in handling infectious disease manage burials in epidemic zones.

9

Tips for medical workers and journalists in outbreak areas? Limit contact with victims to essential medical care only.  Always use protective gear that can’t be breached by the virus, is regularly disinfected and properly disposed of. State-of-the-art Ebola kit includes double gloves, respirator, mask, goggles, full body suit and boots.

Image 9 of 15Tips for medical workers and journalists in outbreak areas? Limit contact with victims to essential medical care only. Always use protective gear that can’t be breached by the virus, is regularly disinfected and properly disposed of. State-of-the-art Ebola kit includes double gloves, respirator, mask, goggles, full body suit and boots.

10

Those Ebola suits are hot and heavy, with internal temperatures topping 100ºF. Suiting up takes up to 15 minutes and they must be changed hourly with the help of a designated 'buddy', also in protective gear. During the process, both people are sprayed with chlorine to protect against accidental contamination.

Image 10 of 15Those Ebola suits are hot and heavy, with internal temperatures topping 100ºF. Suiting up takes up to 15 minutes and they must be changed hourly with the help of a designated "buddy", also in protective gear. During the process, both people are sprayed with chlorine to protect against accidental contamination.

11

Follow medical advice, not myths! Doctors in Guinea tell of rumors that eating raw onions or drinking condensed milk keeps Ebola away. Nutritious food is always good, but it’s no magic bullet against this deadly bug. (People are advised to avoid bushmeat.) Several Nigerians drank sea water and died, believing it would ward off the virus.

Image 11 of 15Follow medical advice, not myths! Doctors in Guinea tell of rumors that eating raw onions or drinking condensed milk keeps Ebola away. Nutritious food is always good, but it’s no magic bullet against this deadly bug. (People are advised to avoid bushmeat.) Several Nigerians drank sea water and died, believing it would ward off the virus.

12

The Arab habit of (dry!) kiss greetings is the safer way to go now that handshakes are suspect. An old-fashioned hand scrub with soap and water can help stop Ebola’s spread. Diluted bleach and alcohol-based hand sanitizers work to decontaminate skin too - both disrupt the envelope of this single-stranded RNA virus.

Image 12 of 15The Arab habit of (dry!) kiss greetings is the safer way to go now that handshakes are suspect. An old-fashioned hand scrub with soap and water can help stop Ebola’s spread. Diluted bleach and alcohol-based hand sanitizers work to decontaminate skin too - both disrupt the envelope of this single-stranded RNA virus.

13

You can immediately wash away an infected droplet on your skin with proper cleansers, but eyes are another story. Sneezes in close proximity can spray fluids directly into others’ eyes. Mucous membranes inside the mouth and nose are also effective pathways for transmission, as is broken skin.

Image 13 of 15You can immediately wash away an infected droplet on your skin with proper cleansers, but eyes are another story. Sneezes in close proximity can spray fluids directly into others’ eyes. Mucous membranes inside the mouth and nose are also effective pathways for transmission, as is broken skin.

14

Two experimental vaccines appear promising and could be made available as early as November. Priority inoculations go to health workers; it could take months to reach sufficient production levels to respond to global demand. WHO has indicated that blood from Ebola survivors can also be used to treat newly infected patients.

Image 14 of 15Two experimental vaccines appear promising and could be made available as early as November. Priority inoculations go to health workers; it could take months to reach sufficient production levels to respond to global demand. WHO has indicated that blood from Ebola survivors can also be used to treat newly infected patients.

15

Avoiding Ebola boils down to four simple steps: if you suspect someone of having Ebola, don’t touch them; if you think someone has died from Ebola, don’t touch them; regularly wash your hands with soap and clean water; and avoid hunting, touching and eating bushmeat. Pretty basic dance steps for most of us in the Middle East.

Image 15 of 15Avoiding Ebola boils down to four simple steps: if you suspect someone of having Ebola, don’t touch them; if you think someone has died from Ebola, don’t touch them; regularly wash your hands with soap and clean water; and avoid hunting, touching and eating bushmeat. Pretty basic dance steps for most of us in the Middle East.

Reduce

"There is a very dangerous downside to Islamic terrorists being carriers of the virus," Norvell Rose wrote in WesternJournalism.com. The theory was bolstered by Shoebat.com, a Christian-themed blog created by a formerly radicalized Muslim, Walid Shoebat. He cites an IS statement published on Vetogate.com which read, "Soldiers of the Islamic State are mostly suicide bombers and all of them are ready…to drink Ebola if they were asked to carry and spread it in the United States." The statement continued, "The process of spreading disease is not difficult. It can easily be transported in a bottle in your bag from Africa to America. The contents of the bottle can then be released in an air-conditioning duct or put in the public drinking water."

Captain Al Shimkus, retired professor of National Security Affairs at the U.S. Naval War College, suggested that IS fanatics could send operatives into an Ebola outbreak region to intentionally expose themselves to the virus. Shimkus told Forbes. “In the context of terrorist activity, it doesn’t take much sophistication to go to that next step to use a human being as a carrier.”

“It’s a plausible theory – IS fighters believe in suicide and this is a potential job for a suicide mission,” Professor Anthony Glees, Director at Buckingham University’s Center for Security and Intelligence Studies, told Forbes. “They are sufficiently murderous and well-informed to consider it, and they know that we’ve been remiss in the UK.”

Let’s park conjecture about conspiracies and go with common sense. Here’s what you need to know about Ebola, and how not to catch it.

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