To finish my year I spent a few hours reading the book The Hot Zone by Richard Preston to reach my goal to read twenty books in 2014.
What I didn’t know when I began this story was that it is in the horror genre. Even Stephen King, renowned author of horror stories commented that “The first chapter of The Hot Zone is one of the most horrifying things I’ve ever read in my whole life . . . and then it gets worse.” The problem is that King writes fiction, and The Hot Zone is fact. After hearing about Ebola on the news, and the firestorm of controversy the virus caused in the USA, I thought it appropriate for me to learn the facts. All I can say is that if Ebola hits Illinois, I’m putting on my running shoes, and I will run away not to stop until I reach the North Pole.
What we don’t know is that in the nineteen eighties Ebola invaded the USA, and took residence in Reston, Virginia within sight of the Washington Mall. The virus hit a group of monkeys in the inventory of a company that supplies monkeys to labs for research. They had five hundred or more monkeys on hand with more coming in a steady stream from Africa. The monkeys were dying and the caretaker did not know from what. His assessment was that they were hit with a Simian hemorrhagic fever. Eventually, the problem became known to the US Army. At the time, the US Army was among the few organizations that could identify the virus. What they found was beyond Simian hemorrhagic fever, they found Ebola. They also recognized Ebola as a threat to the safety of the country, and took necessary action to protect us. Unlike our current President who believes the virus is just another few days off with the flu.
Those who worked in the labs dissecting monkeys described the inner organs of victims looking like they had been dead for a couple of weeks. A flu virus does not eat you alive. The typical survival rate for Ebola is around ten percent. In other words, if you get this virus, there is a very good chance you will die from it in a very short time.
Another thing we don’t know is that the Ebola virus is very adaptable and shows up in different places with slightly different symptoms, but with the same result. There are already three different strains known, Ebola-Zaire, Ebola-Sudan, and Ebola Reston. Because it is so adaptive, it makes the virus more dangerous than we can imagine. The adaptive part is confusing, because Ebola-Reston was ultimately discovered to have infected several people who worked with the monkey population dying from it. Yet, these people survived without any harm.
Experts who work with these diseases claim Ebola makes AIDS look like a piece of cake. Aids is not a piece of cake. Aids kills, and had we not developed medicines to deal with HIV and AIDS the world population would be smaller by a large percentage.
There is a lot of argument about whether Ebola is airborne. If a person dying of Ebola vomits, sneezes, defecate, or coughs he sends droplets of virus laden blood, sputum, and moisture into the air. If any of it lands on you, and makes contact with your eyes, nasal passages, mouth or any open wound there is a very good chance you will catch the disease. If it lands on your skin it is also highly likely the virus will find its way into your body. As long as you are living, the virus multiplies in vast numbers feeding on your cells. Remember, the pores of your skin are openings into your body.
No one knows where the virus originates. They do know that if it gets one person sick, it spreads from person to person rapidly by contact. The original virus itself may already be in hiding as it spreads from person to person. That is why it is so important to keep it from spreading. To date, the origin of the virus is still unknown.
I often wonder why the Ebola scare in the news died as suddenly as it arose. After reading The Hot Zone, I can only surmise that our government froze all news to prevent panic. I am grateful that they did so, but I admonish them for the blasé treatment of people coming from African countries.
It is my opinion that we must keep Ebola out of the country at all costs. The word quarantine should become a household word as it was in the days of scarlet fever, and small pox. Quarantine should also be imposed on those unfortunate enough to come into contact with the virus. It is sad to have to treat people with more discomfort, but better safe than sorry.
I am also grateful for Vice President Dick Cheney who saw Ebola as a terrorist threat and convinced Congress to pass legislation to spend money on research to develop vaccines and medicines. I abhor the CDC and NIH under this administration for spending that money on frivolous research instead of on Ebola cures. Remember, that one of the very first laments of the CDC was that it did not have money to fight Ebola. I guess 5.6 billion dollars is just not enough these days to satisfy the lust of a government gone wild while the rest of us spend our days fearing a disease worse than the plague.
Filed under: Book Review, Conservative, family, Government, health care, Science | Tagged: CDC, Ebola, filovirus, Marsburg, NIH, Obama, Virus | 1 Comment »