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August 07, 2014

A Brand New Concern

For some time, I've been frustrated by the fact that my country is the source of a failing global policy of drug prohibition; also that the species I'm a member of had been endorsing that policy for decades, despite its obvious record of failure.

Today I'd planned to post more analysis of the nuclear threat we humans had somehow avoided during the 50 year Cold War we'd been engaged in with the now-defunct Soviet Union. However, a more pressing existential threat has just come up: an outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa that has already claimed about 2000 lives and been disseminated to both Europe and the US in the form of sick patents being transported for treatment.

Whatever risk was implicit in breaking the quarantine of Ebola within Africa had thus been taken by the humanitarian decision to fly two Americans to Atlanta and a Spanish priest to Spain for treatment. It's unlikely that any quarantine would have held, in any event

That's not to say that "Marijuana" prohibition is any less ridiculous today than it was yesterday; only that the threat of globalized Ebola is much more immediate and deserves precedence.

As it happened, I'd read Richard Preston's gripping description of Ebola about ten years ago. It convinced me we'd be hearing about the Ebola virus again. The strain Preston wrote about was eventually found to infect only monkeys; not humans– but the collateral information he supplied in his detailed analysis left little doubt that Ebola, like Anthrax and Smallpox, would not disappear spontaneously.

The timing for the emergence of human Ebola couldn't be worse. Not only is our overheated, overpopulated home planet trying to cope with the mystery of two missing airliners; we have an existential viral threat as well.

Beyond that, the decision to treat three known human cases outside Africa violated the most basic rules of quarantine for a disease we know relatively little about. However, that risk had already been taken; not just in the US, but in Europe and is believed by experts to have been minor.

The good news is that we should begin to have some answers in the next 8-31 days, which seems to be the incubation period for Ebola in humans.

The bad news is that West Africa was the same place where another unknown virus HIV/Aids emerged less than 40 years ago.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at August 7, 2014 08:59 PM