The Hot Zone

Hasse hasse at PANIX.COM
Wed Jan 10 16:05:56 EST 1996


Answer to Giovanni Maga and EdRegis,

I don't think it's very interesting if nine, ten or eleven people have died 
from Marburg, so far. What's interesting is that you both are downplaying 
the health risks that are associated with Ebola and Marburg viruses. 

CDC and USAMRIID are handling every possible case of Ebola or Marburg as 
a real biohazard emergency. Ebola is synonymous with spacesuits and 
Biosafety Level 4.

I called CDC this morning and they confirm that neither Ebola Reston or 
Marburg is an exception. My CDC contact emphasized that "we don't know 
all we want to know about these viruses". Ebola and Marburg viruses are 
still "very much unknown, and we don't know if they could take another
unexpected turn".      

I agree with you Giovanni that you don't need to be "concerned about being 
infected with FIV", even if it's close to HIV and you still rub your cats 
head".
I have two cats myself, and I don't fear for FIV. I also have friends 
with HIV, and I'm not afraid to give them a big hug.

But, if I had a monkey from Africas rainforest - I would not rub the monkeys
head, give it a big hug or handle it without the kind of protection gear 
that CDC, here in the U.S., recommends for laboratory workers and monkey 
handlers. Call CDC and ask them for their prevention guidelines or call one 
of the best primate facilities in the world, the Southwest Primate Research 
Facility, in San Antonio. Ask them about if they would rub the head of a monkey with suspect
Ebola Reston or if they would even consider to compare FIV and Ebola Reston?

Another detail - Yes, FIV and HIV are related. But, they are not as much 
FAMILY as HIV and some SIV strains, or as closely related as the 
different Ebola strains are. 

"Nobody says that Filoviridae aren't to be taken seriously", says 
Giovanni. I hear you - but, it's not true what you're saying. Because, 
you are downplaying the seriousness of Ebola Reston when you're saying 
that"why should it be more scary (with Ebola Reston virus) than for example
FIV vs HIV?" I think that I've already answered why, but if you didn't 
get it - neither FIV or HIV are Biohazard Level 4 agents! And, as far as 
I know, nobody has got FIV or HIV from a cat...

I don't know what the TB bacterium has to do with virology, and I don't 
believe that people that seriously care about Ebola - doesn't care about 
the reemergency of "old killers". But I get the point that "new exciting 
emerging viruses are more COOL" and I believe that I've heard that before. 
But, personally, I don't think any deadly virus or bacteria are specially 
"cool".

CDC an USAMRIID has repeatedly warned Washington that microbes like Ebola, 
could mutate to an airborne, superlethal hemorrhagic-fever virus. I 
don't think that our sharpest brains and experts on Ebola , has lost 
their senses because they have read something that "imaginative people 
have figured out"

I also  believe that our real experts on Ebola and Marburg doesn't rely on 
exaggerated journalistic-style reports. And, howerer - those reports 
are not written by journalists like me.

Finally, Giovanni - Yes, I've read textbooks in virology, pathology, 
immunology... Have you read any serious Ebola-journalism recently? 
Try Laurie Garrett's "The Coming Plague" and her reports from 
Kikwit '95.

A last detail -  According to Richard Preston in THE NEW YORKER, May 22, 
1995:

"The researchers (from Sweden and USAMRIID, my comment) were never able 
to identify an infectious agent in the student. It remains a case of 
'suspected Marburg virus'."


All the best,


--Hans Andersson, Journalist, NYC
  hasse at panix.com





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