Now it's time to panic. Ebola threatens global chocolate supply

First off, we should probably get to the headline swamping the news outlets this morning. A second case of Ebola, contracted in the United States, has been confirmed in Texas. The patient is a health care worker who was in contact with the the original victim from Liberia who passed away this week.

A health care worker at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital who provided care for Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan, who died last week, has tested positive for Ebola in a preliminary test, the state’s department of health said in a statement.

The health care worker reported having a fever Friday night and was isolated and referred for testing, the department said. The preliminary ​test result was received late Saturday.

“We knew a second case could be a reality, and we’ve been preparing for this possibility,” said Dr. David Lakey, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services. “We are broadening our team in Dallas and working with extreme diligence to prevent further spread.”

This is certainly not good news, and I hope that sufficient medical care allows this worker to beat the disease. But the appearance of a second case is also no reason to start talking about an outbreak or a pandemic or any other such bits of hyperbole. It sounds like the worker reported the situation as soon as a low grade fever appeared (pretty much the moment they may have become contagious) and was immediately quarantined.

The point is, I don’t think we’re quite to the stage of living out the opening scenes of The Walking Dead just yet. But if you really do want news to panic about, there’s something cooking on the other side of the Atlantic in the Ivory Coast. The global chocolate supply is at risk as the world’s largest producer of cacao closes its borders to its Ebola ridden neighbors.

Ivory Coast , the world’s largest producer of cacao, the raw ingredient in M&Ms, Butterfingers and Snickers Bars, has shut down its borders with Liberia and Guinea, putting a major crimp on the workforce needed to pick the beans that end up in chocolate bars and other treats just as the harvest season begins. The West African nation of about 20 million — also known as Côte D’Ivoire — has yet to experience a single case of Ebola, but the outbreak already could raise prices…

The World Cocoa Foundation is working now to collect large donations from Nestlé, Mars and many of its 113 other members for its Coca Industry Response to Ebola Initiative. The initiative hasn’t been publicly unveiled, but the WCF plans to announce details Wednesday, while at its annual meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark, on how the money will fuel Red Cross and Caritas Internationalis work to help the infected and staunch Ebola’s spread.

How did I not already know about the existence of this shadowy, global powerhouse known as the World Cocoa Foundation? It sounds like something straight out of a James Bond movie. Are we trusting the world chocolate supply to an unknown hegemony which could cut off the flow of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups at any moment? And now they are the only ones standing between the planet’s chief supply of cacao beans and an army of Ebola infected migrant workers.

Start strapping some shopping carts together and check your Google calendars. We’d like the looting to be conducted in an orderly fashion, please.