Wednesday, August 1, 2012
Ebola and the new seal flu
There are perhaps a million an one ways to shed this mortal coil but this is not one of the more pleasant ways. The ebola outbreak in Uganda had the locals running from a hospital when they found out patients with the virus were inside. Gatherings were canceled and residents of the city were encouraged to avoid contact with others. And with good reason as the virulent strain of hemoragic fever had invaded their lives.
And you'll note in the photo people dressed in tyvec suits with their faces and eyes covered. Right up my alley so to speak. For you see after 911 I was ( unbeknownst to me) placed in a data base be on the front lines in the war on terror. All righty then. I was expecting some intense training and a call at anytime for mobilization to any manner of shenanigans that might crop up. After all George made us feel as if Al Qaeda would rear it's ugly head at any time to steal out babies and poison our drinking water. That however was not to be. The training came some four years later and it was less than stellar. Most of the information could have been gleaned from any number of sites on the web. In fact that's pretty much how I learned about what I might be up against in such an event. Remember this was the time right after the anthrax incident at the senate office building. I had heard of anthrax but never really studied it extensively as it's not one of our standard hazards.
Now before you consider sealing yourself up in the closet with duct tape and plastic sheeting stop and think about the odds. Prior to our more modern medical techniques and more sanitary procedures it was quit common for people to die from the flu and oft times even a common cold. In 1918 50 million died from the swine flu because they didn't have advanced pathology that they do today. As untrusting as some may be of our current medical establishment the advice for dealing with such things back then amounted to guess work and old wives remedies. Today even the worst cases are survivable to all but the very weak or compromised immune systems. Major airports have screening methods for detecting sick people once they land. Even our present whooping cough outbreak has been little more than an inconvenience in spite of its' numbers. Your odds are better being in a car accident than dying from flu. Ebola as deadly as it may be tends to be confined to rural regions of Africa.
In studying the list of hemoragic viruses over the last ten years it occurred to me that the odds of them making it into this country are very low. There had been that outbreak of SARS some years back yet I can't think of one fatality here in the U.S. The closest I've been to such a virus was a job involving Hanta virus. The difference being that Hanta virus is treatable and fairly easy to prevent once the source is located. The decontamination process is simple and requires little training even though unlike Ebola it can be spread through the air. For some nefarious group to try and make a weapon from these viruses would take quit a bit more than a basement operation. Getting them to their target would be another difficult matter as their symptoms can be obvious and the carrier more apt to want treatment rather than go to a ball game or other large gathering. Lastly it should be noted that most viruses can only survive outside their host for very brief periods of time, sometimes as little as a few minutes.
So there you have my two cents on the subject of Ebola and the H3N8 seal virus. And for those who deny evolution they need to stop and study this a bit more. This virus went through 37 mutations from bird to seal in a very brief period of time. And one more thing. Don't forget to cover your sneeze and wash your hands.