Junkies stricken with a new, mysterious ailment.
June 11, 2000 9:19 PM   Subscribe

Junkies stricken with a new, mysterious ailment. All thanks to Follow Me Here for the link. This one's eerily familiar if you remember the Eighties, or just read And the Band Played On once or twice.
posted by Ezrael (13 comments total)
More info on this, courtesy our pals at the CDC.
posted by aaron at 9:52 PM on June 11, 2000

Actually, this is nothing like AIDS, thank the goddess. With an incubation of two days, after which it's mostly lethal, this one will most likely kill itself out. And it also is just emerging, not showing up in the Isles after traveling from somewhere else. Anyone want to make odds on this being some harmless, universal bacteria that's been super-evolved by antibiotics?
posted by Freakho at 10:36 PM on June 11, 2000

Hmm. I don't know...I think it sounds viral myself, but we'll find out. It's not like Junk users have really great immune systems, what with all the IV use. Even without AIDS it's not very sanitary.
posted by Ezrael at 10:38 PM on June 11, 2000

Not to be a paranoid freak or anything... but if you wanted to introduce a new deadly virus - where better than a iv drug using community.

Through needle sharing the virus will spread quickly. Perhaps it has a short incubation period now, but viruses can mutate. Then it is a slower detection process. Any virus can be easily masked by other bacteria and viruses likely to already be present in a ivd user. This community has often been written off by society as a whole any way...

Remember though, junk users have relationships with people. If this thing can be transmitted sexually - it may be another round of HIV... and like pharmaceutical companies are in any rush to find a CURE. They make far more money off keeping us ill.

This is frightening, really.
posted by thinkdink at 11:29 PM on June 11, 2000

While I would certainly not want to minimize the danger here, as described this is far less dangerous than AIDS.

Compare AIDS to Ebola in your mind. Which has killed more people? The thing about Ebola is that it tends to burn through the population very rapidly, and burn itself out because it has a fast incubation rate and a high mortality rate.

What makes AIDS dangerous is that it is exceedingly slow, and that an infected individual is himself infectious and apparently healthy for years before the disease becomes sufficiently serious to immobilize him. Thus each sufferer can potentially become the vector for infection of dozens or hundreds of other people before finally succumbing to the disease.

Rapid-action diseases are a much different issue. Blood-borne rapid action diseases worry me much less than air-borne rapid action diseases (such as Ebola).

By the way, just as a piece of trivia: there is only one disease known which has a 100.0% fatality rate if untreated -- and it's not Ebola and it's not AIDS. Can anyone guess what it is? (I'll post the answer tomorrow; I think you'll find it surprising.)
posted by Steven Den Beste at 11:39 PM on June 11, 2000

gangrene? meningitis? I'm intrigued by your trivia q.

Anyways, my money is on toxin. If it were viral, there would have to be a count so high you could almost do a visual confirmation on collected tissues. That's one of the reasons Ebola is so lethal, it reproduces so fast that the host's immune system is overwhelmed before it can create antibodies.
posted by katchomko at 1:00 AM on June 12, 2000

posted by Freakho at 1:37 AM on June 12, 2000

From what I've read of this in the UK press, the most likely cause is a toxin, most of the heroin entering this country is from The Middle East, Eastern Europe or Afghanistan. It seems quite likely that, due to the military activity in these parts of the world recently some crops may have been infected by a man-made toxin.
Is the disease Syphilis?
posted by Markb at 4:41 AM on June 12, 2000

Oh, I wish I had time to go hunt for the trivia answer - I love a challenge.

Would strep or staph be it?
posted by thinkdink at 8:25 AM on June 12, 2000

The only disease known with 100% fatality rate is...


That's one of the reasons they treat it so aggressively and take so few chances with it. Fortunately, it reproduces relatively slowly in your body, that if you're bitten they can hit you with major vaccines and basically beat the disease to the punch. By the time Rabies has built up to dangerous levels, the vaccine has already activated your immune system to the point where it can fight it off. But without that treatment, every single person infected with rabies will be killed by it.

posted by Steven Den Beste at 9:59 AM on June 12, 2000

I liked 'life' (or, more properly, 'aging') better.
posted by baylink at 11:11 AM on June 12, 2000

Well, beings that don't reproduce via sexual intercourse don't age to death. They split into two new beings instead, like Amoebas. Since each Amoeba is genetically identical to its 'parent' cell and its 'sibling' cell, there is, in effect, only one amoeba. And it only dies if killed...age has no effect on it save to cause it to fission into two identical beings. So while not immortal, amoebas are ageless.
posted by Ezrael at 8:27 PM on June 12, 2000

CNN is reporting that it was bacterial contamination of the heroin after all. But they are clearly still a little confused.
posted by tingley at 2:18 PM on June 15, 2000

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