Tom Clancy wrote a novel about ebola used as a biological warfare weapon. As Mary Katherine Ham writes, we may be on the verge of seeing what happens if the virus moves into a densely populated area. Lagos, a city with more than 20 million people, has now had a case.

Dr. Kent Brantly is an American physician who has contracted ebola while treating patients in Africa. He is there working with Samaritan’s Purse.

11 thoughts on “Ebola

  1. Many interesting fevers in Africa. Long ago I read the novel Fever which is a in depth look at the discovery of Lassa Fever. Seems to be out-of-print now and is running from $0.24 to $551 on Amazon. Lassa fever has two forms, one that up to 500,000 a year get in Africa and is very survivable and another that is much closer to Ebola in symptoms and has a very high mortality rate. The rate is 20 percent overall but near 80 percent when it goes bad. Since the late 60’s when these hemorrhagic fevers first started to get medically investigated most of Africa has gotten much better at diagnosis and treatment, but it is a huge problem for poor countries.

  2. Don’t we have hanta viruses endemic in the Southwest Four Corners area? I seem to recall an outbreak a few decades back in one of the reservations, which initially sounded like the pneumonic form of bubonic plague based on the news reports. I believe it’s carried by the same type of mice as carry yersinia pestis. (Which is a great name for a pet rat, by the way. The vet almost laughed herself sick.)

      • I thought we had one outbreak with a higher mortality, but it might just be that they didn’t know about folks who had milder cases. A lot of the residents of that area of the country don’t (or at least didn’t) trust western doctors.

        We do tend to forget that we have nasty diseases like this one (which is a hemorrhagic virus which is why I thought of it) and bubonic plague endemic on this continent too. Some forms of plague are near 100% mortality. Be happy if you get the buboes. It’s only around 40% when untreated. And since it takes a week or so to run it’s course, you’ve got a good chance of getting medical help in time. Septicemic is the really bad form, and usually far too fast for any treatment to take effect.

  3. Pingback: More Ebola commentary | Because, Science!

  4. Lagos is a crowded city with many people living in slum conditions. Ebola would like spread quickly in those conditions since it takes about 2-3 weeks to truly kick in. A large number of folks would be infected before they knew what was happening. Any guesses on what could happen if they had just 10,000 cases? The panic there and elsewhere would be over the top.

Leave a Reply