From the news story titled – – – “Health workers miss Louisiana medical conference over Ebola warning” – – – by Jonathan Kaminsky, NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) – A healthcare worker in Liberia is among those staying away from a tropical medicine conference in New Orleans after the state of Louisiana warned of quarantining attendees potentially exposed to Ebola, Doctors Without Borders said on Monday. Amanda Tiffany, an epidemiologist with the humanitarian aid group, was one of at least 10 people blocked from attending the annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH) on threat of quarantine, conference officials said, adding that they oppose the policy. … Tourism travel to Africa is now limited; will the same travel south for the winter soon be impacted? 


The sections of two maps displayed come from a map (the one on the left) that has  a very interesting background and history in medicine ( ).  These two maps depict a strengthening of the tropical theory for pandemics, a proposal that became popular in medicine during the 1860s and 1870s.  It complements much of the behaviors we have today about diseases like west nile, ebola, malaria.  Our knowledge base and belief systems may advance and change over time, but human behavior and reaction to natural events typically do not experience much change.    


The left image comes from British military epidemiologist Robert Lawson’s work in the late 1850s on the behavior of diseases like Yellow Fever in the Caribbean ( ).  The right image is from one of his followers in the late 1800s, one of his strongest supporters, brilliant disease mapper Robert Felkin (   ).     


Lawson was removed to the Caribbean by 1957 due to the failure of doctors at the great military hospital set up to deal with the vast numbers of injured and sick soldiers related to the Crimean War around 1854 ( , ).   This is the war that gave the founder of the nursing profession, Florence Nightingale, the fame that she deserves ( ).      


The interesting thing about Lawson’s map is it has rarely, if ever, been reviewed before by medical historians and medical geography historians (if there are any others out there).    


Philosophically, I teach in my classes on statistics and spatial math that researchers with paradigms are important to the advancement of knowledge and science.  The tussles that exist between the classic epidemiologists of today and the barely acknowledge spatial disease specialists who follow the geographers’ paradigms are perfect examples of these ongoing academic and professional debates.    


Lawson in fact performed miserably while serving as Robert Lawson was working as Inspector-General in charge of maintaining British hospital units around the world, including the hospital in Scutari in 1854 (there are hundreds of pages on Nightgale and this epoch event, do your own search–or see for starters ).    


And Lawson naturally was the last to admit his errors, or accept responsibility for the poor sanitation of the Scutari hospital due to his mismanagement of poorly behaved doctors in Scutari.  When Nightgale arrived to inspect this hospital in 1854, instead of retiring Lawson, Parliament sent him to the Caribbean (see Google version of the report on this visit by her, composed by Rev. Sydney Godolphin Osborne, 1855: ).     


In the Caribbean, Lawson almost immediately forgot his dreadful experiences in Crimea.  After just a season or two residing in yellow fever bound Jamaica, he invented a new theory for endemic disease patterns — The Pandemic Wave Theory.      


Lawson’s new theory was based upon a map of the world that depicts magnetic fields varying relative to latitude lines.  This map was produced by Michael Faraday, and in today’s sense of producing scholarly research, a plagiarism of Faraday’s map with new title and new logic.     


The fact that where Lawson resided was a rare anomaly in global magnetics behavior–fluctuations in the compass needle never happened in this part of the world–led him to draw his conclusions about disease and the latitudes lines, mostly by onserving yellow fever patterns.     


Lawson used the varying magnetic patterns of the world to explain the deviations we see for certain diseases fail to behave according to the earh’s latitude and climate lines.    

See  ). The maps are nearly identical.     


This reasoning became quite popular for a short while, and was even used to explain other epidemic disease patterns in need of such.  

Fairly quickly, this theory became absent from the medical journals. Like many medical "beliefs", it was a phenomenon in human philosophy, behavior and character that lasted just a generation or two.       


The numerous theories, speculations, fads, and other fancies posed out there on the internet regarding the current Ebola outbreak are interesting examples of how philosophy (belief) comes face to face with science and medicine at times (Occam’s Razor effect – – see my posting as well, on this – – ).     


Currently, there are two potential paradigms out there for dealing with the Ebola outbreak.  The traditional approach is believing in the traditional science (what some writers call the "scientism approach", claiming science too is a philosophy).     


But there is also the counter-theory out there, a sociological, demographic theory about how Ebola behaves and operates ecologically (human ecologically).  This approach is dependent mostly on geographic, spatial modeling means for interpreting global disease patterns.  It in fact complements our focus on the genetics of these new forms of disease, their evolution and their behaviors.  ideally, a dual way of interpreting Ebola should be used–like the dual particle-wave theory of light.  Both are right.  But unfortunately, only one becomes the focus for the current profession, as their current paradigm.   












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