Ebola is for wimps!
January 10, 2001 3:44 PM   Subscribe

Ebola is for wimps! Some Australian scientists were trying to come up with a mouse contraceptive vaccine, for use in pest control. And they succeeded. Unfortunately, the virus they created works by killing mice before they can breed, and killing them very very well. Oh, and it's extremely vaccine-resistant: 100% death without vaccine, 50% with. And any kid with a Li'l Johnny Gene Engineering Kit could conceivably make a human version. Anyone got some smallpox virus laying around?
posted by aaron (5 comments total)
On the subject of viruses and biological and chemical warfgare, see this week's issue of the New Yorker Magazine for the article about the doctor in South Africa who woriked with this sort of thing. What is worrisome about the article, though, is the number of countries playing about with deadly materials and buying and selling the stuff--few contries seem exempt.
posted by Postroad at 3:46 PM on January 10, 2001

Favorite quote: '"It's surprising how very, very bad the virus is," said Anne Hill'
posted by daver at 4:47 PM on January 10, 2001

Keeping in mind that a virus with this level of lethality will not spread very far (how many people do you know with Ebola? the flu?), it's a bit dramatic to call it a "Doomsday Bug". A very nasty biological weapon, certainly.

See, the people who die can't infect anyone.
posted by dhartung at 7:59 PM on January 10, 2001

I had the understanding that Ebola hadn't spread very far because the outbreaks of it had been in areas where it was containable by quarantining. The fear seemed to be of someone managing to actually get on a flight out of, say, Kinshasa and even if they didn't survive the flight to O'Hare, potentially infecting those 300-odd passengers who'd live long enough to start infecting larger populations in the metropolitan Chicago area... Or, is that just the "hype" of that book and those rip-off films?
posted by m.polo at 9:34 PM on January 10, 2001

Mostly hype. Ebola spreads through physical contact, usually through body fluids. It's a lot better at that than, say, AIDS is; in theory shaking the sweaty hand of someone who's infected would be enough. But generally, someone who's sick enough with Ebola to infect you already looks like someone who would infect you, and you're not going to get anywhere near him. And by that point he'll be dead in a couple of days. So someone could get infected and start to be infectious himself on a plane, but I doubt more than a few people would get it from him, and nobody would be let off the plane once it landed anyway.
posted by aaron at 9:42 PM on January 10, 2001

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