The Hot Zone

Hasse hasse at PANIX.COM
Tue Jan 9 23:46:24 EST 1996


Ed,

I disagree with you. To say that Marburg has only killed 10 people so far 
and that there's nothing scary about Ebola Reston - Excuse me,I don't 
mean to be rude, but that's nonsense.

The whole family of filoviruses is "scary" and deserves to be taken 100% 
seriously. The Reston case was a close call. People in the Philippines, at 
JFK Airport in New York, at the the Reston monkey house, and (according 
to a CDC report), monkey handlers at two other U.S. primate facilities and
scientists at USAMRIID were possibly exposed to the virus before anybody 
had even thought of Ebola.

Filoviruses are still a big questionmark. Nobody knows where (more exactly)
Marburg & Ebola comes from, how it is transmitted to a  human patient zero,
why the  Ebola Ivory Coast strain  seems to be less virulent and lethal than 
Ebola Zaire & Sudan...  

Ebola Reston was a lucky shot, because only monkeys died. But, remember 
that Ebola Reston is so very close to Ebola Zaire & Sudan - the human 
killers - that even scientists have had problems to keep the strains 
separated. They are obviously very closely related.
 
USAMRIID's scientists concluded that Ebola Reston was probably airborne. A
later experimental study (also by USAMRIID) published in the spring of 
1995, in Int. J. Exp. Path. indicates that even Ebola Zaire has a 
"potential of aerborne infection. In the biosafety level 4 study monkeys
got Ebola Zaire via inhalation.

It doesn't scare me to panic, because we're still talking about 
lab-conditions versus reality. But, I must say that I'm having a hard 
time with people that don't take killer diseases seriously.

I'm born in Sweden, a welfare state with cold weather and a good health 
care system. A couple of years ago, a Swedish medical student had been 
traveling in Africa, and lived for about four weeks in the town of 
Kitale, at the base of Mt. Elgon, approximately twentyfive miles from 
Kitum Cave. Yes, the Kitum Cave, that figures in "The Hot Zone".

When he returned to Sweden he got really sick and was taken to a hospital. 
The patient started to vomit blood,two members of the team accidently 
stuck themselves on possibly infected needles and all together 55 medical 
personnel had been exposed to the patients blood - before USAMRIID 
experts in biohazard spacesuits flew in. Both the patient and the 
hospital staff survived. 

But, there has been more than one close call. There's no reason to run or 
panic for Ebola - but, thers's definitely reasons enough to not downplay 
a real threat.

Richard Preston's book is scary, and interesting. But, if you wanna read 
some serious criticism of the book: go to David Ornsteins "Outbreak" and you
can find an article by F. Randall Bethke, a man that "was there", when it 
happened. 

I'm not sure that it's the final truth. But, it's definitely worth 
reading and I agree with at least some of the criticism.

Peace, a healthy debate and a good year to all of you,       


--Hans Andersson,NYC
  hasse at panix.com




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