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Wednesday, May 13, 2020

"During these challenging times,

we're all in this together."


Don't know about you, but I'm getting sick of that banal ad copywriter blather. "Let them eat clichés."

And, yeah, I know it's lexically true.


The Day in Stupid.


In 2006, the idea that an unknown virus might spill out of some wild animal into humans, achieving person-to-person transmission and causing a global pandemic, seemed a distant prospect to most people. As an engaging science-fiction scare, it ranked somewhere beneath “Alien: Resurrection.” But Ali S. Khan, of the National Center for Zoonotic, Vector-Borne, and Enteric Diseases, was tasked with dreaming that nightmare by daylight.

NCVED (pronounced “N. C. Zved,” according to Khan), part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, resided in an unobtrusive gray brick building, behind locked gates and locked doors in the C.D.C.’s compound on Clifton Road, six miles northeast of downtown Atlanta. During a two-day visit that year, I worked my way along the NCVED corridors, interviewing scientists who knew all about Ebola viruses (yes, there are more than one) and their lethal cousin Marburg; about West Nile virus in the Bronx and Sin Nombre virus in Arizona; about simian foamy virus in Bali, which is carried by temple monkeys that crawl over tourists, and monkeypox, which reached Illinois in giant Gambian rats sold as pets; about Junin virus in Argentina and Machupo virus in Bolivia; about Lassa virus in West Africa, Nipah virus in Malaysia, Hendra virus in Australia, and rabies everywhere. All these viruses are zoonotic, meaning that they can pass from animals to people. Most of them, once in a human body, cause mayhem. Some of them also transmit well among people, bursting into local outbreaks that may kill hundreds. They are new to science and to human immune systems; they emerge unpredictably and are difficult to treat; and they can be especially dangerous, as reflected in the name of the branch within NCVED that studied them—Special Pathogens. For these reasons, some scientists and public-health experts, including Ali Khan, find the viruses an irresistible challenge. “It’s because they keep you on your toes,” he told me…
About a 40 minute read (has audio embed also). Excellent.

More to come...

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