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September 12, 2014

Director for University of Minnesota's Center for Infectious Disease Research: Ebola Should Give You Nightmares

Usually people say "Don't panic."

This guy is saying Maybe you should panic.

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 Im 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.

You kind of have to read the whole thing.

What is it he wants? Well, one thing he wants is to put the UN in charge of controlling the outbreak, which it's not at the moment. Right now it's just "coordinating" things.

I know everyone hates the UN but I don't really worry too much if they're in charge in Africa for a specific purpose.

The thing that's kind of scary -- and I don't know if he intended people to make this connection or not -- but he discusses an airborne-transmission form of Ebola in monkeys whose outbreak was not stopped until the monkeys were all... euthanized.

I don't know what he's trying to say except that we should be extremely anxious.

Thanks to @rdbrewer4. Sort of.

Here's a Plan: Bandersnatch--

What hashtag can we use to tell the virus to just not mutate?



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posted by Ace at 01:28 PM

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