Hello and welcome to Pandemic Potential, the blog that lets you know the next thing to go viral, in less of a ‘fluffy kitten chasing a ball’ and more of a ‘horrendous flesh-eating disease’ kind of way. However the aim of these posts is not to scare you into locking yourself away in the basement with a thousand tins of baked beans and a candle. Rather, the science behind the fear-mongering will be analysed so that the imminent threats to humanity can be sifted from the posturing pretenders.
Unless you’ve been living under a stone for the last year (a bit less comfortable than a basement) you’ll have been inundated with news of the Ebola outbreak in North West Africa. The morbid curiosity of the public was captured by tales of orifice-bleeding and 90% fatality rates, but the scale of this epidemic pales in comparison to the damage that other infectious agents are capable of inflicting. But why haven’t these threats ‘gone global’? What circumstances are required for another Ebola-like scare, and are we actually out of the Ebola woods yet? In this blog, various emerging infections will be evaluated and their ‘pandemic potential’ rated. Ghosts of pandemics past will also be examined, in order to shed light on the circumstances behind their development and what we can do to stop similar events occurring in the future.
So read on if you want to know how a bout of flu killed more people than both world wars combined, how realistic it is to expect a virus to ‘go airborne’, how Eau de Cologne was originally used to mask the plague and, most importantly, which mysterious threats have the potential to cause a pandemic.
“Army trainers teach NHS medics how to put on Ebola safety suits (15650293350)” by DFID – UK Department for International Development – Army trainers teach NHS medics how to put on Ebola safety suits. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Army_trainers_teach_NHS_medics_how_to_put_on_Ebola_safety_suits_(15650293350).jpg#/media/File:Army_trainers_teach_NHS_medics_how_to_put_on_Ebola_safety_suits_(15650293350).jpg