Life as an Extreme Sport

An Ebolanoia Anniversary–Or, The Emperor’s [Lack of] Disclosures

It’s the Ebolanioa anniversary! Over at Slate, Tara C. Smith takes us through a quick walk down memory lane, and the utterly outsized reactions and political theatre America went through a year ago: quarantines and threats and Daesh-licking doorknob villains, oh my. One thing still sticks in my craw: the utterly ludicrous suggestion from respected epidemiologist Michael T. Osterholm that we were all just afraid to talk about Ebola becoming airborne, but it was a real threat. Even though multiple, well-respected virologists and Ebola experts immediately corrected Osterholm’s panic piece, the panic piece is what took life, with other news outlets repeating him word-for-word–and few people questioning why such a respected epidemiologist would even propose such an outlandish thing, let alone in the pages of a New York Times op-ed rather than in a respected, peer reviewed publication. While it pains me to point this out, because Osterholm was quite

Continue reading »

Know Your Variants: Kikwit vs Gueckedou

This is an update of an earlier post, Know Your Species: SUDV vs EBOV. When last we discussed the Democratic Republic of Congo outbreak of Ebola, it was presumed that it was actually an outbreak of the genus Ebolavirus, species Sudan ebolavirus (SUDV), largely because that’s what initial reports indicated. It hasn’t yet been clarified why there were reports of a positive test for SUDV and a positive test for a SUDV/EBOV mix (although I’ve heard speculations about earlier outbreak exposure), but what we do know is that on 2 September, the World Health Organization released the results from their virological analysis, showing that while the Ebola outbreak in the DRC was actually EBOV (Zaire ebolavirus),See Maganga G, Kapetshi J, Berthet N, Ilunga B, et al. Ebola Virus Disease in the Democratic Republic of Congo. NEJM 2014;DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1411099. it also was not linked to the on-going epidemic in West Africa.I

Continue reading »

Know Your Species: SUDV vs. EBOV

Last night, it was confirmed that at least some of the hemorrhagic deaths in a remote area of the Democratic Republic of Congo are from an ebolavirus–but it looks like it’s species Sudan ebolavirus (SUDV), rather than the one ravaging Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia, and trying to get a foothold in Nigeria: species Zaire ebolavirus (EBOV). Technically, EBOV is the only member virus within the species Zaire ebolavirus, but let’s keep it simple. …simpler. In other words, while the two outbreaks involve members of the same family (Filoviridae) and the same genus (Ebolavirus), they are not the same species. It might help to think about cats.Ian Mackay uses cars, and goes into much more detail. But frankly, it’s the internet. Cats are the obvious go-to. Like these guys: While these cats are both members of the same family (Felidae) and the same genus (Felis), their species are different. In fact,

Continue reading »