## Tuesday, September 16, 2014

### patience..., vast land and resources coming soon in an equatorial region near you

wired |  The Ebola epidemic in Africa has continued to expand since I last wrote about it, and as of a week ago, has accounted for more than 4,200 cases and 2,200 deaths in five countries: Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone. That is extraordinary: Since the virus was discovered, no Ebola outbreak’s toll has risen above several hundred cases. This now truly is a type of epidemic that the world has never seen before. In light of that, several articles were published recently that are very worth reading.

The most arresting is a piece published last week in the journal Eurosurveillance, which is the peer-reviewed publication of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (the EU’s Stockholm-based version of the US CDC). The piece is an attempt to assess mathematically how the epidemic is growing, by using case reports to determine the “reproductive number.” (Note for non-epidemiology geeks: The basic reproductive number — usually shorted to R0 or “R-nought” — expresses how many cases of disease are likely to be caused by any one infected person. An R0 of less than 1 means an outbreak will die out; an R0 of more than 1 means an outbreak can be expected to increase. If you saw the movie Contagion, this is what Kate Winslet stood up and wrote on a whiteboard early in the film.)

The Eurosurveillance paper, by two researchers from the University of Tokyo and Arizona State University, attempts to derive what the reproductive rate has been in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. (Note for actual epidemiology geeks: The calculation is for the effective reproductive number, pegged to a point in time, hence actually Rt.) They come up with an R of at least 1, and in some cases 2; that is, at certain points, sick persons have caused disease in two others.
You can see how that could quickly get out of hand, and in fact, that is what the researchers predict. Here is their stop-you-in-your-tracks assessment:
In a worst-case hypothetical scenario, should the outbreak continue with recent trends, the case burden could gain an additional 77,181 to 277,124 cases by the end of 2014.
That is a jaw-dropping number.

BigDonOne said...

HOW TO STOP EBOLA --- Don't send 3,000 troops, send 3,000 Megatons....

CNu said...

Uglyblackjohn said...

Yeah.. I remember when you posted that they used to use pencils and scotch tape...

BigDonOne said...

This is really the same principle as surgically treating cancer. The surgeon will excise the afflicted tissue with a little extra (hopefully) called the "margin." The pathologist then examines the margins to see if afflicted tissue still exists at the edges. If the edges of the margins are all clean, then "they got it all." If not, then some bad cells probably remain in the patient to multiply and propagate.

Since the ebola infected area consists of folks too effen dumb to rigorously practice control measures, the only hope to stop the epidemic in its tracks, is to kill everyone within the infected perimeter, plus a reasonable additional margin of healthy folks....

CNu said...

It's already far enough along, with the likelihood of an airborne capable mutation, that it's going to get at least several million globally. As biological weapons go, this Marburg virus is really quite the impressive piece of work. Watch.

BigDonOne said...

If so, this may be the ultimate test of who really has 'Good Genes'....

CNu said...

That test will come if it goes airborne and mushrooms out to several hundred million globally. There's just no telling how far something coming out of Ft. Detrick will go as compared with something that evolved naturally and in some sort of equilibrium -seeking homeostasis with its host(s)...,

One is of course compelled to question the genetic hygiene of the killer-apes who synthesized this monstrosity in the first place.

BigDonOne said...

We will have genetically modified humans, the same way they make genetically modified soybeans - spray a crop with Roundup and harvest seedstock form the survivors. A few iterations of that and, Presto !!, soybeans immune to Roundup for weed-free crops.....or humans immune to Ebola will ....

Uglyblackjohn said...

I hope China is sending those Totobobo masks and not those surgical masks as part of their PPE package. A proper fitting HEPA mask would be even better.

Vic78 said...

Here's another David Brooks classic: http://www.startribune.com/opinion/commentaries/275308221.html

Dale Asberry said...

Lol, it doesn't work out quite that way Don and you'd be aware of it if you had any access to farmers. What's been happening is that the weeds have been developing immunity to glyphosate. Also, those plants that have been genetically modified to resist glyphosate are like in-bred dogs -- they're particularly susceptible to insects, disease, and drought. What's particularly ironic is that these "weeds" are much more nutritious and contain more food "value" per pound than soybeans.

Vic78 said...

I couldn't even take what he was saying seriously. The same guy that worries about breaking his hip when he falls somehow believes he'll survive an airborne Ebola virus. I'm guessing humans will go through these changes sometime next year.

BigDonOne said...

"Mr. President, I would not rule out the chance to preserve a nucleus of human specimens. It would be quite easy... at the bottom of some of our deeper mineshafts..."

BD has his all staked out and provisioned....