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The Hot Zone

Hasse hasse at PANIX.COM
Fri Jan 12 02:12:27 EST 1996

Giovanni Maga wrote:

> Nobody said that cases of infections from Ebola or Marburg should not 
be taken as biohazards.

No, that's correct. What I read was that you thought that there was no 
reason to be more scared for Ebola Reston than for the possibility that 
your cat could carry FIV (which can not be transmitted to humans!). And 
EdRegis argued for that there's" nothing at all scary" about Ebola 
Reston or Marburg... 

Excuse me. But,is Ebola Reston and Marburg to be considered 
non-scary-biohazards? Once again - they are both classified and handled as 
Safety Level 4 Biohazards. I believe that means that the whole Ebola 
family is considered to be a possible worst-case-scenario germ - a virus 
with extremely high fatality rate, from an unknown reservoir and with a
great degree of unknown transmission and mutation possibilities.     

I've, so far, never heard of a virologist from CDC or USAMRIID that
doesn't have a healthy fearful respect for everything that smells Ebola 
or Marburg. 

> But in your posting there was a sense of incoming catastrophe, like 
these viruses were actually challenging the survival of the human race...
Sorry, but, I haven't written any Ebola-article about an incoming 
catastrophe of viruses that actually will challenge the survival of the 
human race. If you like to debate with the journalists that puts an 
unjustfied fear in people - you should talk to somebody else. How 
about calling CNN and tell them that you didn't like their 1-hour 
special "Apocalypse Bug". How about calling your daily newspaper next 
time you're reading a sleezy virus article? I don't like trash articles 
about Ebola or "flesh-eating bacteria", either. But, even more important - 
I don't write them.
And just now, I'm here in a newsgroup where virology is the subject and I 
suppose that the people that are here with me has both knowledge and interest 
in the subject of Ebola virus and other viruses. 

> Every respectable scientist will say that.

Yes, because it's true!

> But not every respectable scientist will panic because we do not know 
all we want.

What? I don't know of any scientist at all that will panic because he 
don't know all he wants to know. Did I say that CDC was in panic, or a 
scientist friend of mine, or did I express panic myself? I don't think so.


Ifully  agree with you that the perspective that is often missing in news 
reports is that the risk to contract Ebola in the streets of New York or 
London is far less than the risk to be killed in a car accident.   

> How many articles did you write recently about the reemergence on old 

What have you done yourself for to contribute to the good cause?

Like Laurie Garrett, I'm writing both about newly emerging diseases and 
the  reemergence of old killers, like TB, Cholera and Malaria. In '95 I 
wrote only one article about Ebola and that was for a large daily Swedish 
newspaper. No, the article was not titled: "10 reasons to panic for 
Ebola". It was just a straight report from USAMRIID on progress with 
serum from survivors, in treatment of Ebola patients.

>Unfortunately many of your colleagues do not think the same.(about 
Ebola as a COOL virus)

I don't feel personally responsible for colleagues that do think 
that Ebola are COOL or "sexy. Do you feel responsible for colleagues 
with wicked opinions on viruses?

>...Ebola can mutate etc. is absolutely correct. However, spreading 
this information BEFORE it has happened, without saying that it can 
also NEVER happen... is absolutely of no utility for people and 
contributes to spread unjustified panic, since non-virologist or at 
least people not educated in biological sciences cannot evaluate the 
real risk and tend to believe that something is true because it's 
written on a newspaper.

I'm sorry, but not everything that I'm writing is published in a 
newspaper and not everything that is published in a newspaper is 
written by me. 

Hello! Am I missing something? Is this a newspaper where I'm writing 
without getting paid? Bad deal! I thought it was a news group where
virology was the topic.


Thanks for your offer to share your Filoviridae references, I really 
appreciate that. I have plenty of research material myself, so maybe we 
could exchange Ebola stuff or something else, one day. You know - like 
kids does with their cards ofbaseballplayers and Batman. 


Another subject: "Veterinary Biochemistry". Interesting. I've some up-coming
articles on animal health subjects. Is it possible that I could e-mail 
you a few questions, later? 

All the best and let's save the flames for the terrible superbugs that 
may come or not come.

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

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