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Ebola: Can we learn from SARS? - The Globe and Mail
RICHARD SCHABAS AND NEIL RAU
Contributed to The Globe and Mail
Published Wednesday, Aug. 27 2014

here are four key things to know about Ebola:

1. It’s fundamentally spread from animal to human, not human to human.
This is an animal outbreak, with humans as collateral damage. The driving force is new infections acquired from animals. Human-to-human outbreaks are short-lived. This is not a single human outbreak starting from a “case zero.”

The specific animal reservoir for Ebola is unknown but is probably a jungle animal used for food, known as “bush meat.” The large number of cases in West Africa must be the result of more human contact with infected animals, either because there are more infected animals or because they are consumed or hunted more aggressively in West Africa than elsewhere. While identifying a specific animal host would certainly aid in prevention efforts, bush meat remains an important source of dietary protein and won’t be abandoned overnight as a food source. Ebola is a disease of poverty – a potentially deadly meal is better than no meal at all.

2. Unlike SARS, this outbreak won’t end quickly.

This is bad news for West Africa, which should expect a steady stream of new human infections.

3. Quarantine was abandoned a century ago.

There is an essential difference between quarantine and case isolation. Quarantine targets well people potentially incubating an infection; it’s impractical, ineffective and economically disruptive. Case isolation, on the other hand, targets individuals showing symptoms of disease and is the cornerstone of effective infection control.
4. Ebola may cause a scare, but it can’t cause an outbreak in Canada.
Ebola  SARS  flu_outbreaks  lessons_learned  disease  viruses  zoonosis  short-lived  collateral_damage  bad_news  Africa  West_Africa  infections 
september 2014 by jerryking
What history can teach us about SARS
Apr. 14, 2003 | TIME |By Pete Davies .As scientists race to unravel the mysteries of SARS, one issue high on their agenda will be the likelihood that the new virus is a cross-species transmission in which the virus has mutated from its animal carrier so that it can infect humans, who have no immunity from the alien invader. The most obvious examples of this are HIV and influenza, and the latter disease has disturbing parallels with SARS. The flu virus lives usually in the stomachs of waterfowl, and the two are co-adapted — the birds don't get sick. It is widely believed among virologists, however, that with the domestication of ducks in southern China 2,000-3,000 years ago, flu jumped species.

This region has always had high densities of people living in close proximity to large populations of pigs and chickens. It's not known in which order, but with this ready pool of targets near at hand, flu has transferred from ducks to all three species — and once established, it can swap back and forth between its different new hosts with devastating effect. The virus survives and thrives by constantly mutating — so that just as our immune systems recognize and kill off one strain, a new one emerges against which our defenses don't work. Most are minor adaptations, the product of genetic "drift." Every now and then, however, something more dramatic occurs: a genetic "shift." Also termed "a reassortment event," this is the creation of a wholly new strain with genetic elements taken from viruses found in different species.
China  epidemics  genetic_drift  genetic_shift  viruses  flu_outbreaks  SARS  proximity  zoonosis  zoonotic  genes  HIV  influenza 
may 2012 by jerryking

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