|I Ching ideogram for Chaos vs. Ebola Virus Virion|
Ebola is certainly one of many clouds on our collective event horizon. A cloud that is darkening, and a wind that is rising, exponentially.
I'm intrigued by the I Ching, Chaos and the Chinese ideogram and associations with chaos. Thus, when I saw this image of the Ebola filovirus, them li'l hairs at the back of my neck stood up. Not that that means anything.
A few, epidemiological cautions:
- The USofA has a poor track record of limiting the spread of infections within its health-care system (e.g., staphococcus among several others).
- Full 'entitlement' to medical care has yet to be established, which means that many persons - despite alarming symptoms - defer treatment until the last possible moment. This renders them at a remove from the present, medical system.
- Homelessness is high, leaving a large segment of the population both at higher risk and 'under-the-radar'.
- Drug use is high, putting another segment at higher risk. 'Crack houses' are perfect incubators for an aspiring disease.
It's possible that Ebola is containable, at least if it fails to mutate in ways which make it easier to spread. But if containable, it will likely be so in West Africa. And prospects look bleak.
Ominously, it already possesses one of the prime ingredients for pandemic; a relatively lengthy period of asymptomatic proliferation in those who've contracted it. It is a relatively small step to become more readily transmissible during this asymptomatic period.
The more we 'lean' on the virus (via quarantine, antibody-rich plasma transfusions and other interventions), the more we 'select for' variants which exhibit early transmissibility.
Airborne is a larger step, though Canadian evidence suggests that a near relative is at least partially airborne (current outbreak handling of this info). Already, ebola protocols specify mask and respirator for coughing patients, suggesting that, if the patient is coughing (expelling droplets), ebola is de facto airborne.
From here on, it's a matter of refinement.
The public is being advised against 'hysteria' and panic (good advice, whatever the facts). The assertion is that an advanced health-care system is proof against the occasional, imported, local outbreak. Probably true.
But what do we do when the World outside the bubble of our good fortune goes septic? What of our 'vital national interests', so many of which lie outside the umbrella of 'the best health-care system in the world'?
Do we close our borders to all comers... please slip your natural resources under our door? Can we stand in splendid isolation, who have become dependent on the wealth of other nations?
We have sown poverty and strife. We may be seeing the face of the Reaper.
PS. The resemblance between the filovirus shown in the above image and ideogram is, in fact, coincidental... search images for 'ebola virus virion' and you will find that this pattern isn't a standard, but rather an instance.