The Ebola Epidemic
"Not really alive, yet not quite dead, viruses are the zombies
of the microscopic world. They don't carry on any of the activities
that define life. Viruses can't move or reproduce themselves. They
don't have any moving parts. Viruses don't need food or oxygen to
live. In fact, they can't do much of anything until they get inside a
living cell--a host."
The study of edipemiology contains some of the most fascinating
detective stories in the modern world. No matter how advanced we may
feel, we are still vulnerable to and terrified of dread killer
diseases. Whether typhoid at the dawn of the twentieth century or
AIDS more recently, scientists must use all tools at their disposal to
find out origin and means of transmission in order to seek a cure.
Connie Goldsmith's The Ebola Epidemic: The Fight, The Future takes
the reader behind the scenes of a race to outwit a viral grim reaper.
In 1976 a thermos arrived at a tropical medicine institute in
Belgium. It was sent all the way from Zaire in Africa and contained
two test tubes of blood. Tests ruled out diseases like yellor fever
and Lassa fever. The new hemorrhagic virus, named after a river,
seemed to die out.
In 2014 Ebola was back with a vengeance. Confirmed and
suspected cases numbered in the tens of thousands. Health care
resources and trained medical professionals were in very short
supply. It took months for the rest of the world to realize how
dangerous the new outbreak was.
How could it be prevented from becoming a pandemic?
On a personal note, I was a child when the polio vaccine was
concocted. My mom and others who recalled living in dread of that
dread disease volunteered their children as guinea pigs. They called
us polio pioneers. I was not a happy participant until my mom
rewarded me with ice cream.
A great big shout goes out to epidemiologists. They are rock stars.
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