Ebola: the greatest threat, continued

Ian A. York york at mbcrr.dfci.harvard.edu
Sun Aug 20 18:04:14 EST 1995


In article <99792FA2E69 at ida.ruc.dk>,  <JOHANN72 at IDA.RUC.DK> wrote:
>
>Ebola is another ballgame. There is no way to protect effectively 
>against this disease, and we have seen at mutation of this virus, Ebola 
>Reston, that evidently was airborn (luckily it only affects monkeys).

No offense, Erik, but people who think that Ebola is a genuine threat to 
humanity are generally very poor on context.  It should mean something to 
you that we virologists are not panicking about it.  

If you want a nightmare disease, how about a highly contagious disease, 
with a long incubation time (during which people are still infectious), 
which can affect anyone anywhere, rapidly become resistant to 
antibiotics, for which there is no effective vaccine despite much effort, 
which can be spread by non-intimate contact?  Tuberculosis is on the way 
back; the WHO expects 30 million people to die of tb in the 
this decade.  

Ebola has killed less than 400 people in the past decade.  By contrast,
typhoid fever kills over 600,000 people per year; measles kills 1,000,000
(one million) people per year.  If you think Ebola has the potential to
kill anywhere near that many, you don't understand the virus.  The Ebola
outbreak in Kikwit *was* the worst-case scenario; *everything* went 
wrong.  300 deaths.  Not trivial.  But a tiny fraction of the real 
killers.  

Lobby and try to get measles vaccine in Africa, if you want to do some 
good.  Son't waste your time worrying about Ebola.

Ian

-- 
Ian York   (york at mbcrr.harvard.edu)
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, 44 Binney St., Boston MA 02115
Phone (617)-632-3921     Fax  (617)-632-2627




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