Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Next Epidemic? SARS-related Virus Found

You need to know about this stuff to save your life. This is not something that MIGHT happen. IT WILL HAPPEN.

In case you don't know or remember, the SARS virus became a pandemic. That means it spread to countries all over the world and killed a lot of people. It was bad enough, but it could definitely be worse. Scientists and medical people who study these things think it is only a matter of time before we get a more serious pandemic.

A coronavirus related to SARS (of recent epidemic fame), was found in one person to start with. Now other people have been found with the disease in more countries. 

The disease is serious. It has killed about  half of the known victims. There are more questions than answers about it at this time. 

One of the important questions about it is how it spreads. Bats are suspected as harboring the disease, but how it gets from them to humans is still a mystery. The scientists studying the disease suspect that some domestic animal may be the vector between bats and humans.

Goats were thought to be a possible vector until people who had no contact with goats got the disease. 

The disease is not an epidemic risk now. The problem is that it could become one eventually. That possibility exists because of how rapidly viruses change. Although it is not known how this one spreads, it may become able to spread rapidly like an ordinary cold or flu virus. With about 50% fatalities now, if it starts spreading, we are in big trouble.

Our medical shepherds are quietly preparing for an epidemic of this virus. If they are worried about it, we had better do enough worrying to protect ourselves the best we can too.

I already have quite a few posts on this blog about preparedness for epidemics. You need to read them and use them, if you care about emergency preparedness. 

Here is a link to a Guardian article about this epidemic in case you want to read more. It will be followed by more arcane site links that give information about viruses and epidemics.

The above link is in plain English. I am going to give you more links about this that may cause you the pain associated with big words and thinking:

Okay, I lied. The link just above is not too bad. It explains things about virus basics in ways that are fairly easy to understand. It is a good article to get you up to speed to understand more. 

Before you continue reading about viruses, please look at my previous posts about how to be safer during an epidemic. If you don't want to look at my posts, look at somebody's posts on how to give yourself and loved ones a better chance to survive an epidemic.

Here are more articles about viruses:
I think the most important part of the story above is that smaller farms that don't ship food as far make us safer from epidemics. We need to encourage local agriculture. It will help save our lives as well as the environment.
The above article uses more science jargon, but it is very short.
This link is to a blog that has over a hundred posts about virology. It uses scientific jargon, but explains it. 

Here is an important quote from one of the posts: One compelling reason to gain an understanding of this nonlytic infection is the likelihood that adenovirus gene products cause damage to the host cell genome. … While these functions are irrelevant to the lytic infection of epithelial cells where all infected cells die, they are of serious concern when infected lymphocytes have carried the viral genome and survived. … Despite this normal appearance, the cells display altered gene expression long after the virus is lost.3

I underlined the best part. That means even after you are well from the virus itself, you can still be sick for a long time because of the damage to your body's defense system, the lymph system. You can be a sitting duck for other diseases.

I am going to give you a nice link to the Center for Disease Control yet again to give you a chance to know what to do about an epidemic: 

The link above on the CDC site is about minimum standards to take good, and safe care of a sick family member at home during an epidemic. It is fairly long, but be brave and read it to save your own life and the lives of family members. I have more in previous posts including how to come up with home care during an epidemic in more affordable ways. 

An epidemic is only something to worry about if you are not prepared to deal with it. Get prepared for it. Do the best you can to be ready for an epidemic, review the material and check for updates. Stay aware of local and new spreading epidemics that may come to your area. 

Once you do everything you can to be prepared for an epidemic, you can stop thinking about it much.

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