Well, that's it.
February 6, 2001 3:52 PM   Subscribe

Well, that's it. We're done for. Ebola hits North America...maybe.
posted by ritualdevice (29 comments total)
I assume you're being hyperbolic for humorous effect, ritual. Unless somebody frenches her or something, it's not like it's going to tear across the landscape. It's not airborne; it's blood-and-fluid-borne, as the article points out.
posted by Skot at 3:59 PM on February 6, 2001

Well, so is AIDS...
posted by swank6 at 4:02 PM on February 6, 2001

HIV, rather.
posted by swank6 at 4:02 PM on February 6, 2001


Man, can you imagine ebola zooming through New York because of an errant sneeze on the subway?
posted by thirteen at 4:03 PM on February 6, 2001

Well, so is AIDS...

AIDS/HIV has an extremely long latency period; you can have it, and be capable of passing it on, for years before you even realize you're infected. Ebola, OTOH, starts taking you down as soon as you get it. By the time you became contagious, you'd already look so bad that nobody would be willing to get anywhere near you. It's not a problem.

Now, when it mutates into an airborne form, then we'll all be seriously fucked. Give it time.
posted by aaron at 4:16 PM on February 6, 2001

Maybe not.
posted by sabbydarling at 4:21 PM on February 6, 2001

Ah, thanks for explaining aaron. :) sabby, the link doesn't work.
posted by swank6 at 4:26 PM on February 6, 2001

On Edola from the article:
"Symptoms include high fever, headache, muscle aches, stomach pain, fatigue and diarrhea. They typically appear within a few days of becoming infected."

The author of the article makes it sound like the flu, then on the last line:

"The disease also causes massive internal bleeding."

Wow. Physical liquidification as an after thought. I'm guessing NyQuil would only treat the symptoms up to the point where you pass your intestinal tract and stomach into the toliet.
posted by Jeremy at 4:26 PM on February 6, 2001

Ebola is not a problem eh? Tell that to these people or these people.

Here's the CDC faq.
posted by ritualdevice at 4:38 PM on February 6, 2001

I had a nightmare a couple years ago about AIDS mutating into an airborne virus.

I KNEW I shouldn't have been reading The Stand before bedtime.
posted by waxpancake at 4:41 PM on February 6, 2001

Sorry, let me try the
link again.
posted by sabbydarling at 4:48 PM on February 6, 2001

Ebola is not a problem eh? Tell that to these people or these people.

It's not a problem for us, who are covered by first-world medical beliefs and techniques.

ObSidenote: How do they get away with calling themselves "Global TV" when they barely reach outside Ontario? Aren't they like the UPN of Canada?
posted by aaron at 4:54 PM on February 6, 2001

heh, aaron. it's kind of like the miss universe contest. i mean, where are all the ladies from the crab nebula?

(Yes, they are like the UPN of Canada. So consider the source.)
posted by sabbydarling at 4:57 PM on February 6, 2001

You're not covered by "first world medical techniques" when you're on an airplane or a bus...and once you catch it, you're meat.

Thanks for the link sabbydarling.
posted by ritualdevice at 4:59 PM on February 6, 2001

I don't usually trade bodily fluids on airplanes.
posted by aaron at 5:09 PM on February 6, 2001

That's a shame.
posted by Neb at 5:15 PM on February 6, 2001

There's GlobalTV in Vancouver too
posted by PWA_BadBoy at 6:11 PM on February 6, 2001

"sigh...Only in the Hammer" - Gord Downie, after being hit in the head with a butter knife during one of his band's performances.

"The Hammer", referring to the city of Hamilton, where the Ebola virus may currently reside. sigh...only in the Hammer.

posted by Succa at 7:14 PM on February 6, 2001

Aaron is correct. Ritual is being hyperbolic. A disease like Ebola that spreads and kills immediately is much easier to control and quarantine than a disease like AIDS where you can walk around for years not even knowing you have it.

The dramatic bleeding-map sequence from Outbreak was pure nonsense. Diseases simply do not spread like that.

Also, a disease that kills quickly does not evolve as much as HIV. For Ebola to be much more than a freak occurrence from time to time, it would have to evolve into a much more hardy form with a longer incubation in the human body.

I'm going to continue to be more worried about getting zapped by lightn NO CARRIER
posted by dhartung at 7:46 PM on February 6, 2001

Oh good grief.

The burn rate of the ebola virus (and all other ultra lethal viruses) doesn't allow it to spread very far, anyway.

Of more worry is something like the superflu that took out 20 million people in the early part of the 20th century in just eight weeks.

posted by Kikkoman at 7:51 PM on February 6, 2001

Indeed; we will know if there's a problem in no more than 10 more days. News travels by the fastest available route; *these* days, that means about 35 seconds after the second case, it will be on CNN.

For all their troubles and travails, CNN is *still* the network of record for the entire world; I hope they survive.
posted by baylink at 8:36 PM on February 6, 2001

I am so envious of those who have a million things to worry about. I have been blessed with the blissful ability to sail through life without a fret. But now I can finally join the masses, for tonight I will toss and turn and wonder the fate of North America.
posted by poodle at 9:24 PM on February 6, 2001

dhartung, read kikkoman's article. diseases do spread like that. lots of them do, they just don't kill strong healthy people very often.

kikkoman, while burn rate inhibits the spread, population density and mobility increases it, and the world is much more densely populated and mobile than it was at the turn of the century. Read Jeremy's quote from the article above, he's right. Sounds like the flu. You wouldn't necessarily look so bad that nobody would be willing to get anywhere near you.

While this particular woman's case may not be the start of an Outbreak (bad movie btw) scenario, I think it would be foolish to write of this virus completely, as our socioeconomically myopic friend aaron has.
posted by ritualdevice at 9:29 PM on February 6, 2001

Oh yes. "I disagree, therefore I will toss around political attacks to disguise my lack of a legitimate argument." How brilliant.

Which part of "blood and/or secretions of an infected person" don't you understand? The flu is more virulent than that, and thus spreads much more easily.
posted by aaron at 10:19 PM on February 6, 2001

Didn't the person with the first known case of Ebola get it under mysterious circumstances? I seem to remember something like that from the book The Hot Zone. They suspect it was in a cave or something where the person had gone, but they don't know *exactly* how. It wasn't through exchanging bodily fluids with another carrier, though.

There may be other vectors for this disease, ya know. I'll err on the side of caution, myself.
posted by beth at 9:16 AM on February 7, 2001

ritual, you must spend an awful lot of time worrying about very exotic ways to die. Nobody's "writing off" Ebola by pointing out that one unconfirmed case of a bodily-fluid-borne virus on the continent does not necessarily mean we're all doomed. As your CDC link points out, the most common means of spread are sex or through family members--food prep, nursing, spitting into your kid brother's face, whatever. And your original article also points out that the woman was in all likelihood not infectious during the time she was on the plane.

And beth, the "patient zero" for Ebola--whoever it was--is under debate, but yeah, by definition, the circumstances would be "mysterious." The virus jumped from animal-to-animal spread to human-to-human, a process called "zoonosis," which is poorly understood (in fact, one link I read a while ago suggested that someone got it from eating smoked monkey meat, a phrase which only in this discussion fails to make me giggle). But just because the process is still mysterious in some ways is still no reason to sweat it. You might as well get the shivers over contracting feline leukemia.
posted by Skot at 9:47 AM on February 7, 2001

Kikkoman was also using hyperbole. Depending on which figures you use it probably took up to a year for 20 million to die, not eight weeks. I would maintain that the LA Weekly article is of the same fearmongering genre that it suggests is popular today.

Look, I'm just in favor of managing risk appropriately. The news media freaked out over West Nile virus, when normal everyday flu kills more Americans every day than that did all year. Or jaywalking.
posted by dhartung at 10:12 AM on February 7, 2001

(ok, I'm about to be really insensitive and crude here-- but I can't help it) If this ends up being a patient zero like Typhiod Mary... would she be called something like 'Ebola Lola'? (my brother proferred Squirty Gertie... but that's just sick)

Beth, I believe that the patient zero tracked down in Hot Zone was for Marburg (that's what the very graphic opening sequence was about, because of the similarities of the disease)
posted by tj at 12:23 PM on February 7, 2001

False alarm it seems
posted by buddha9090 at 6:14 PM on February 7, 2001

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