Thursday, October 02, 2014

the establishment put out its cover story weeks ago...,

NYTimes |  There are two possible future chapters to this story that should keep us up at night.

The first possibility is that the Ebola virus spreads from West Africa to megacities in other regions of the developing world. This outbreak is very different from the 19 that have occurred in Africa over the past 40 years. It is much easier to control Ebola infections in isolated villages. But there has been a 300 percent increase in Africa’s population over the last four decades, much of it in large city slums. What happens when an infected person yet to become ill travels by plane to Lagos, Nairobi, Kinshasa or Mogadishu — or even Karachi, Jakarta, Mexico City or Dhaka?

The second possibility is one that virologists are loath to discuss openly but are definitely considering in private: that an Ebola virus could mutate to become transmissible through the air. You can now get Ebola only through direct contact with bodily fluids. But viruses like Ebola are notoriously sloppy in replicating, meaning the virus entering one person may be genetically different from the virus entering the next. The current Ebola virus’s hyper-evolution is unprecedented; there has been more human-to-human transmission in the past four months than most likely occurred in the last 500 to 1,000 years. Each new infection represents trillions of throws of the genetic dice.

If certain mutations occurred, it would mean that just breathing would put one at risk of contracting Ebola. Infections could spread quickly to every part of the globe, as the H1N1 influenza virus did in 2009, after its birth in Mexico.

Why are public officials afraid to discuss this? They don’t want to be accused of screaming “Fire!” in a crowded theater — as I’m sure some will accuse me of doing. But the risk is real, and until we consider it, the world will not be prepared to do what is necessary to end the epidemic.

In 2012, a team of Canadian researchers proved that Ebola Zaire, the same virus that is causing the West Africa outbreak, could be transmitted by the respiratory route from pigs to monkeys, both of whose lungs are very similar to those of humans. Richard Preston’s 1994 best seller “The Hot Zone” chronicled a 1989 outbreak of a different strain, Ebola Reston virus, among monkeys at a quarantine station near Washington. The virus was transmitted through breathing, and the outbreak ended only when all the monkeys were euthanized. We must consider that such transmissions could happen between humans, if the virus mutates.

2 comments:

woodensplinter said...

So many predictable mechanical stupidities http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/oct/02/ebola-patients-waste-remained-texas-apartment-two-days you really couldn't design a more effective propagation system than sound asleep and mechanical humans in a big city. What did you say the other day? Ha

BigDonOne said...

Over there in Eye-QCue-Seven-Five land, it is apparently customary for family members to kiss the corpse bye-bye during the ceremony. That's how funeral attendees could have gotten infected....


In Dallas, there are apparently unanswered questions as to how the vomit from "'he vomited all over the place outside his apartment" got cleaned up and what happened to the cleaned-up vomitus...??. There are fotos that suggest some normal maintenance dude (no protective gear) just went out and hosed it into the drain. --- Bodily fluids, yeah