Archive for the Dangerous Diseases Category

The 2014 Ebola Outbreak Part 2

Posted in Dangerous Diseases, In the News, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on October 7, 2014 by Stephanie Selby

Hazmat Worker

So it’s finally happened-Ebola has made it stateside (not counting the American aid workers of course). I would say I was disappointed, but I’m not all that surprised. At least the guy wasn’t contagious on the plane, otherwise I would really be worried.

Truth be told, this isn’t the first time Ebola has made it to our shores. In 1989, a strain that could only affect primates managed to come to Reston, Virginia through some imported lab monkeys. All the animals were eventually euthanized, but scientists had a deep concern that this strain could be airborne.

My sister has bought several gallons of bottled water, and wants to stock up on canned food if this situation gets any worse. Personally I think she’s being a little paranoid, but I haven’t complained because it can be used in general forms of disaster preparation.

This is because Ebola is rather hard to spread. People can only infect others when they’re symptomatic, and even then other people must come in contact with infected bodily fluids. This is why caretakers and healthcare workers are at the most risk, as they’re exposed more often. People who may have shared a plane or bus with an infected individual are much less likely to receive any level of exposure of any kind. Of course there’s always the possibility that Ebola could adapt and change to become a more communicable disease, but the chances of this occurring are rather low.  It’s so easy to spread in Africa because of cultural traditions around death and their unfortunate lack of infrastructure. African hospitals generally don’t have the training or resources to properly prevent the spread of disease.

I’m not just repeating what they say on the news either. To me, Ebola has been a fascinating disease since I was very young. I’ve been reading about it for about fifteen years or so. That certainly doesn’t make me an expert or anything, I’m just saying that what I’ve heard on the news is consistent with what I’ve learned over the years. I’m just glad that news outlets aren’t blowing this all out of proportion.

The weird thing about all this is that I’ve learned a lot about West Africa, and I now really want to go there someday. I really want to meet the people there – after this outbreak blows over of course.

Advertisements

The 2014 Ebola Outbreak

Posted in Dangerous Diseases, In the News, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 6, 2014 by Stephanie Selby

ebola-disease1For those of you living under a rock on the surface of Mars with your eyes closed and your ears covered, there’s an outbreak of Ebola in Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, and now Nigeria. New cases have sprung up in Lagos, one of Nigeria’s largest cities. So far there have been 1700 suspected or confirmed cases, has claimed 932 lives, and two American aid workers have also contracted the disease.

Now of course this is a terrifying, tragic event for anyone affected. I’m not here to make light or revel in the very real death and despair of fellow human beings, but I’d be lying it I said this wasn’t interesting for me. Ever since I was young I’ve found it fascinating how dangerous diseases like Ebola make us mortals react. One of my favorite classes in college was a disease history class where I learned about how it has affected human culture, medical practices, and overall views of mortality. I’m curious to see how this outbreak affects our world in the long term.

For those of you unfamiliar with Ebola, here are the basics. Ebola is a viral hemorrhagic fever, a type of disease that causes internal and external bleeding, and has a mortality rate of up to 90%. It’s spread through bodily secretions like blood, sweat, tears, semen and more, easily contaminating surfaces as well. Oftentimes it’s family members and medical professionals contracting the disease because of their exposure to a patient or family member. There is no vaccine and no effective treatment or cure.

For more detailed information, I recommend checking out both the WHO’s and the CDC’s website about the outbreak.

According to the news, the reaction of populations affected by the disease has played a part in its spread. Families naturally look after their own when illness strikes, and many are unwilling to put them under the care of strangers. Burial practices in West Africa also require mourners have close physical contact with the body, like touching, washing, and kissing. Rumors about the intentions of medical professionals have also caused tensions. Many West Africans have little faith in their governments and mistrust Westerners. Some fear that the disease has been brought to them by Westerners, others fear that if they give up their sick relatives, they will never be seen again.

Conspiracy theories also abound, from doctors experimenting on the sick to stealing organs and body parts, to officials profiting from the outbreak by pocketing foreign aid money. Another rumor circulating is Ebola is some kind of bioweapon spread through the water. Even accusations of witchcraft are swirling around.

It’s pretty sad to see how a lack of trust can erode the efforts of medicine and government. Apparently West African governments need to work much harder to regain the trust of their people. It’s impossible to say if the West could ever achieve that.

So is there any way that this virus could pose a greater threat to the rest of the world? There’s a lot of banter going around about that question. The CDC has been assuring the public that the virus poses little danger for other countries due to it’s manner of transmission. However, Mother Nature can be vicious sometimes, and the more the disease spreads the more likely it could mutate and gain new traits. Much like how flu strains change every year, Ebola could become more virulent or become airborne, or resistant to treatment. The chance is slim, but in the realm of possibility.

In any case, the worse Ebola outbreak in history still rages on.

Weird Video of the Week

Posted in Animals, Dangerous Diseases, Death, Film, Weird Videos with tags , , , , , on July 4, 2014 by Stephanie Selby
Happy 4th of July everybody!

Happy 4th of July everybody!

This week’s video shows how humans die of rabies. Interesting to see, but please be advised if you’re easily disturbed; this is a real person dying. Enjoy the holiday, have a great weekend, and for the love of all that is holy please go see a doctor if you’re bitten by a wild animal!

Weird Video of the Week

Posted in Animals, Apocalypse, Dangerous Diseases, Death, History, Humor, Nuclear War, Science, Weird Videos with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 28, 2014 by Stephanie Selby

Yay! 100 posts! Here’s to having 100 more!

First, I’d like to apologize for the recent lack of posts. My new job has kept me rather busy and it’s difficult to find the time to create new content. It’s something that I’ll be working on in the future.

In the meantime, here’s an introduction to a series that I’m quite fond of. The one posted here is the first of many episodes. Sadly, it’s no longer updated, but it’s still a great way to get some education about deadly substances along with a dose of entertainment. Enjoy, and have a great weekend!

Exit Mundi: The Many Ways the World Will End

Posted in Apocalypse, Dangerous Diseases, Insanity, Nuclear War, Science, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 14, 2014 by Stephanie Selby

end-world-survival-guide-staying-alive-during-zombie-apocalypse.w654Who’s up for a little something new?

Surely it’s a gross understatement when it’s said there’s a lot of strange things to be found on the internet. Most of its creepier aspects are not fit to be shared, but I’m happy to show all of you one of my personal favorites. It’s a website called Exit Mundi. and it explores the many ways the apocalypse could occur. From the well known possibilities, to obscure scientific theories, you’ll find it discussed here. Even though it’s a rather old site that’s no longer updated, it’s still functional and a great place to explore.

So in honor of this little website, I would like to share with you some of my favorite scenarios!

Nothingness: The Big Sleep – Let’s start off with something really unusual! Even now, our universe is expanding and cooling. It’s not a problem right now, but in a 100 trillion years or so the universe will be a very empty and cold place to be. If humans manage to survive to this point without anything else taking us out, we’ll have to figure out how to exist with less and less forms of energy. Scientists theorize that we’ll first find a way to put our consciousness in a computer, as our human bodies wouldn’t be able to survive the cold. As temperatures cool even more, our computer selves will think more slowly and hibernate in order to save energy. Eventually, we’d hibernate all the time as it would be the only way we could exist. Talk about going out with a whimper!

Look Mom, I’m Napoleon Bonaparte! – Think the whole would could just lose it? Think again! The numbers of people with mental issues is continually rising. A large number of the population suffers from depression, anxiety, eating and behavior disorders. Could it mean that were becoming a necrotic species? Actually, the rise of our overall population and better treatment of mental disorders has increased our awareness of these issues, but many scientists believe that it’s very likely we meet our demise this way. This is because of the likelihood of  another kind of disaster significantly decreasing our population – to the point that inbreeding becomes a problem. Constant inbreeding can create mental retardation as well as a whole host of other problems, so even if our kind does survive a catastrophe we may still succumb to our own minds.

The Day Our Food Bites Back! – I’m sure I don’t need to tell you how controversial genetically modified organisms can be, but there are some pretty dumb ways we could alter plant DNA. Many of the GMO crops we have today are difficult to control, as they often breed with unaltered varieties and spread their genes in nature.

So what if humanity manages to create a GM crop that was resistant from disease and pests and could grow in any environment? It would be like kudzu or scotch broom on steroids, taking over every speck of land it could get it’s roots into. In due time people would be stuck eating nothing but grain, rice, or corn because it would be the only kind of plant left.

Imagine this hypothetical plant had strange effects on us. As the article states, scientists from a company called Epicyte managed to make a ‘contraceptive corn’ – corn that kills sperm cells and makes men infertile. Or perhaps humans would be allergic to the plant in some way. Definitely not a great way to go.

Will the Black Plague Haunt Humanity Again? – A tried and true form of the apocalypse, we humans have witnessed what damage tiny little microbes and viruses can inflict. From smallpox, to the Black Death, to the 1918 flu pandemic, and Ebola, good old Mother Nature has always concocted new ways to thin our numbers. Evolution pretty much guarantees that we will someday see a sickness that will pack a wallop, if not completely wipe us out.

The Dark Side of the Mushroom Cloud – Another classic scenario that is near and dear to my heart. The very first human creation that could not only wipe us out, but the entire planet along with us. Count yourself lucky if you die in the initial blasts, (where I live, I’ll be among them) because if you don’t you’ll have to try surviving with fallout, radiation, and a long nuclear winter. Nuclear energy is such an interesting subject, the previous summer I actually went to Handford, the place which was a vital part of the Manhattan Project. It was a wonderful experience.

This is only a handful of the senarios that you can find on Exit Mundi. I highly encourage you all to check this site out!

So, do you have a favorite? Which one would it be and why? Let me know in the comments!

The Villian of The Last of Us

Posted in Apocalypse, Dangerous Diseases, Videogames, Zombies with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 23, 2013 by Stephanie Selby

The-last-of-us

For anyone that hasn’t played The Last of Us yet, this contains a whole load of spoilers. Please get off your butt and go play this game already! Now let’s continue…

In The Last of Us, gamers play Joel, a hardened survivor of the cordyceps brain infection that decimates humanity. He’s tasked with protecting Ellie, a young girl immune to infection, so that researchers can find a vaccine. In this game just about anyone and everyone is an enemy. But there’s one antagonist that people often overlook.

It’s Joel.

Despite being the main protagonist of the game, he has a lot of villainous traits that leaves players questioning his ethics throughout. He brutally kills infected and humans with little discretion. He’s killed innocent people to steal what little they had, at points credited with killing 76 lookout men and opponent’s friends, tortures and kills captives, considered a “crazy man” by many, and finally hinders the Fireflies’ efforts to find a cure. Ellie even adopts his ruthless tactics when Joel is too injured to carry on. It’s a pretty long list, isn’t it?

"Guess what? We're shitty people, Joel. It's been that way for a long time."

“Guess what? We’re shitty people, Joel. It’s been that way for a long time.”- Tess, Joel’s partner in the beginning.

That’s not to say that Joel could be considered a sympathetic villain or antihero. The tragic loss of his daughter at the beginning of the outbreak and surviving for twenty years in such a devastated world is bound to leave a terrible mark on a person. He was never a great guy after the outbreak, but before that he was a loving, hardworking father. After meeting Ellie he’s very determined to do what it takes in order to protect her, very much to his credit. With these facts in hand, there’s a lot that can be found forgivable in my opinion.

There are some situations where it’s clear that everyone’s an asshole. Strangely enough, I think that assessment qualifies here. None of the Fireflies really questions the ethics of killing a child for the slim chance of finding a vaccine, except for Marlene, and that’s only because of personal obligations. When Joel finally saves Ellie and takes her to another distant location to try to live a normal life, he lies to her so she can’t make an informed choice on her own. Ellie remains completely ignorant. It really gets to me because I feel like Joel and Marlene should have given Ellie the choice to sacrifice herself to find a vaccine.

As a sidenote, I’ve been revising The Demon’s Day and I’m thinking of posting it again here. I don’t think I should completely change the older posts here because it feels too much like shoving material down the memory hole, so I’ll probably add the revised stuff in a series of new posts. It would make for an interesting comparison, and then we can move on with the story. If anyone out there has an opinion about it speak up, otherwise I’ll post the revised version soon.

Weird Video of the Week

Posted in Dangerous Diseases, Language, Weird Videos with tags , , , , , , , , on July 19, 2013 by Stephanie Selby

I thought I’d change things up a bit and give you all a little history/language lesson. There are a lot of words that have interesting origins!

If you have a video that would be a good fit, send it to me and I’ll post.