Man, that’s some horrible virus. What I want to know is if it’s that contagious, why hasn’t it already sparked an epidemic ala Captain Tripps? All it would take is for someone to hop on a plane and sneeze a few times–what am I missing?
Ever read The Hot Zone? It’s very nearly happened. In one instance, in Africa, they put a patient on a plane, knowing that he was sick, but not knowing what was wrong with him, the goal was to get him to a major city with a decent hospital. Amazingly enough, even though he was in the grips of the illness, filling the air sickness bags with the vomited remains of his organs, no one on the plane came down with the illness. Even someone who shared a drink with another victim didn’t contract the disease.
While we know some of the methods of transmission (blood), we don’t know all of them, and we don’t even know what animal hosts the disease has. The great horror of the disease is so much of it is a mystery.
This is a trait of poor viability, an organism that kills it’s host before it can reproduce & infect another host. If only ebola would just evolve a little patience, maybe develop a thicker casing so it can resist desication allowing it to linger on frequently touched surfaces; and learn to utilize the upper respiratory system. Now there would be an organism worthy of the destruction of the known world!
Between this, that, and the Bird Flu, we’re just a little tense about disease these days.
The City of Toronto is making contingency plans for a flu outbreak in which they expect a 35% casualty rate, or about a million people sick and off work:
Scary. Are we going to see mass graves in Coronation Park?
SARS was a wakeup call, a real test of the health system, and perhaps did us some good by showing how vulnerable we really are.
I work as a technical writer, and the world can live wothout my job for a few weeks. But what do you do when 35% of your nurses, bus drivers, truckers, and water/power/sewer workers can’t come in to work?
This is seriously scary. My grandfather told me about the flu epidemic back during WWI. He was in Kansas City and described the scene of a whole troop train of soldiers coming in sick. The boarding hotel he lived at had a sickbed behind the desk, where the owner was trying to take care of a family member, the hospitals all being full.
Shudder. That’s one old time story I sure as heck don’t want to see happen now.
In the town I grew up in, during the flu epidemic the only doctor in the area (a little farming community outside of Columbus, OH) had to sleep in his car, along with his nurse, in the main intersection in town, so that people could find him if they needed him (telephones not being very common in the area, nor electricity, now that I think about it).