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The Ebola virus - the end of the civilized world

David Ornstein davido at apocalyspe.org
Thu Aug 24 04:02:29 EST 1995

In article <41d7v0$3se at news.MillComm.COM>, hiro at mill2.millcomm.com says...

>I think that this may be a simplification of the matter.  I think 
>that the truth is rather more disturbing.  It seems to me that both
>of these diseases are symptomatic of some aspect of human behaviour.

Largely true.

>Not a new thought by any means, but any efforts we spend treating these
>specific diseases are treating the symptoms, not the underlying 

This is not really true.  In many instances, we are truely treating the 
causes.  Development of vaccines, education programs about sexual behavior and 
drug-use, mosquito control programs, and careful attention to rodent 
(and other vector) populations are all examples of treating the problem.

>Why did AIDS come out of obscurity and start spreading like
>wildfire?  Why are there suddenly all these hemorrhagic fevers of 
>different genetic description (Junin, Ebola)?  

Actually, these hemorrhagic fevers are not really all that new.  We've know 
about them for decades.  They've probably been around much longer than that. 
Much of what's happening is that communications media (TV, the net, books, 
etc.) has amplified our awareness of these things.

>Marburg and Ebola are
>similar enough (both are filoviruses) but the others are not filoviruses,
>and I wonder what human behaviours exist that would favor the emergence
>of diseases of this sort.  
>What are WE doing?  What behaviours exist in our lifestyles that would
>contribute to the spread of new infectious agents?

Quite a lot.  But it's a minority, I think.  Certainly, when you consider 
those choices that are personal ones.  There are many reasons for the 
emergence (and reemergence) of these diseases:

*** Inadequacy of public health infrastructures has made possible the spread 
of many diseases (e.g., cryptosporidiosis, cholera).  

*** (Changes in) human behavior -- especially sexual behavior and drug-use 
(e.g., AIDS).

*** Modern transportation and technology -- especially air travel (e.g., 

*** Evolution in the microbes themselves (e.g., multiple drug resistant 


It's a long list.  Some of it is related to our behavior as individuals, some 
to our social and cultural behaviors.  Some to other factors.  There are good 
writings about this question on the net.  Check out, for example, 
Steve Morse's article about the factors behind the (re)emergence of these 
diseases.  It's in the first volume of Emerging Infections Diseases, a journal 
published by the CDC.  I've forgotten the URL.  Email me if you need it.

David Ornstein
Personal Info at http://www.apocalypse.org/pub/u/davido/home.html
The Ebola Page at http://ichiban.objarts.com/ebola/ebola.html
Coming soon: Outbreak, a WWW service devoted to emerging diseases

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