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"SARS ? No Problem....."

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Fri 25/04/03 at 20:43
Regular
Posts: 787
Amidst the media hype and general scare mongering there are a few facts evident about SARS.

*It's spread has been brought about by air travel.
*A vaccine is going to be difficult as it's mutated/associated with the common cold virus.
*It is showing potential to mutate - therefore a vaccine for one country may not work in another.
*Spread by close contact.
*Possibly spread in micro droplets from person to person, in other words face masks, whilst being a little bit of a placebo, may actually be only semi effective.

Fortunately, so far, the Chinese only have a problem because of their attempted cover up of it - something which may lead to another of the world's few Communist regimes finally going under, but that's another story - and other countries are attempting to contain it, possibly with success.

There's more of a chance you'll be mugged, hit by a car, or infected with any number of other diseases than get SARS, at the moment. Mortality rates are currently about 6%, maybe exagerated by China's woefull attempts to hide and treat those infected. Even within Toronto the figures are skewed by the presence of various Asian communities where the outbreak ocurred. It may well be they did not seek treatment very fast or did not have medical insurance to do so, and that deterred them until symptoms were advanced enough to warrant concern.

We don't know a lot, and we're fearing a lot, or at least the media are trying their best to.

Now, WMD, Weapons Of Mass Destruction, includes the wonderful category of biological weapons.

Leaving aside the situation of Iraq, a quick look at the forums shows that me, and others, have made anything involving that a somewhat funless insult exchanging compo, consider now why the world must take steps to eradicate WMD's, eventually from everywhere on the planet, or at least back to purely defensive roles.

Imagine this.

A lab worker in a research facility steals one vial of, let's say, Ebola Zaire virus. Or, a group breaks into a lab, steals it. He/She/They disappear without trace, or they just go straight to the nearest shopping centre, town square e.t.c and smash the vial. Let's say they disappear, work with the virus, adapt it. A year later, or less, those same people reappear in another area, or country, and obtain jobs in malls, centres, towns, cities, anywhere. One day, when they go to work, each carries a cannister, they spray the contents around them.

Ebola Zaire. Airborne. 98% (roughly) mortality. 5-10 days incubation period, longer with engineering. Highly infectious. No vaccine or cure.

It makes SARS look like a cold. Of every 1000 who could have it only 20 would surive.

And there are plenty more lovelies like Ebola out there right not. The former USSR had a fair few, many of which are not lost along with it's former republics. We have some, for "defensive uses", so does the USA, and there are many many samples from around the world missing. Ebola isn't even hard to get, just fly out to an infectious zone and get some, and hope you don't get caught.

Think about it. 98% mortaility, millions would be die. Armageddon in the 21st century lies not at the tip of a nuclear weapon, but in a test tube, and unless something is done it will be something that we hear of all too late.
Sun 27/04/03 at 21:17
Regular
"Gamertag Star Fury"
Posts: 2,710
Whilst there are safeguards, as you say "at the source", hows about the former USSR states ? I'd hazard they barely have them in some places and that the economic situation in some of them means the potential for the selling of materials has to be high.

I remember a few years ago on the FAS.org website they published a rumour, I empthasis RUMOUR, that the Iraqi government tried to deal with the Russian Mafia to acquire certain un-named agents, however the Russian Mafia double crossed them, killed the Iraqi's, took the money, and went. Whether it's true who know ?

http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp? ARTICLE_ID=30003 Details another Russian Mafia POSSIBLE deal, which if true highlights the scale of the problem in Russia and it's former states.

The fact still remains that, with enough money and the right people, it is more than possible for a group to acquire, develop/engineer a biological agent and release it, and unless they happen to be detected then the first we know about it is when the cases start showing up, then we have to determine the source, find the people responsible - all of which takes time.

The only good side ? Engineering a virus, or even a nuke - though not so in the case of suitcase ones - needs the kind of facilities that a nation state a group is in can hardly deny existence of, Syria for example cannot plead innocence to a bio-lab on it's territory.

And we are all quite aware of the retaliation for any use of WMD on a NATO member.....

On another note who thinks that the Chinese Government is heading for serious trouble ? I think that if they have to declare martial law then the proverbial excretion will really hit the fan.
Sun 27/04/03 at 21:06
Regular
"Gamertag Star Fury"
Posts: 2,710
Yeah. the media's really jumped on this because the Gulf situation is no longer providing thousands of military hardware images....
Sun 27/04/03 at 02:15
Regular
"Bored, Bored, Bored"
Posts: 611
The point here was more to do with the use of a disease as a biological weapon, but since you posted...

This was talked about to some extent in another topic SONICRAV, and I have to say that the potential threat of SARS is not as bad as the world media would have you believe.

You rightly focus on the problems that the Flu virus causes every year, and yet do people panic and cancel travel arrangements? Not really. It is of course, up to the individual to decide what risks they take with their health - but considering that SARS is a form of Pneumonia, no more deadly than other strains and no more treatable for that matter either, donít you feel that thereís been a certain amount of overkill?

I understand that SARS is not your immediate concern, but Influenza kills up to 500,000 people globally each year, thatís around 1400 a day, nearly five times the amount of fatalities caused by SARS in total. In pandemic years, such as the outbreak of Spanish Flu after WWI the total is much higher, but still people do not panic in the way they are over SARS.

It smacks home to us, because we really donít get to hear about how disease effects the rest of the world too often. SARS is a new viral infection, so an awfully large amount of attention is being heaped on to it. At the moment, less than 300 people have died from SARS worldwide, under 10% of those diagnosed with it. Note that there is no cure/vaccination at this time. Take this into consideration - 3000 African children die from Malaria every day, despite effective anti-malarial drugs being available. But because Malaria does not effect us, or ĎThe Westí, there is no panic, no public outcry at government miss-management of the disease.

That is the reality of the situation, and the list of diseases that kill around the world and yet do nothing here make incredible reading. 2000 African children die every day from diarrhoea and dehydration, brought on by measles or malnutrition. Can you imagine having to live with that hanging over you?

Did you know that 2 billion people, a third of the worlds population is infected with the Tuberculosis Bacillus, and out of that around 2 million will be killed by TB each year? There is a strain of TB that is now resistant to the major therapies, and with people travelling the world over, itís only a matter of time before somebody brings it here. And unlike Ebola, or some of the more famous viral infections, Tuberculosis can be caught in the same way as the common cold.

There's plenty to worry about without considering the possible mutation of SARS, we just don't hear about it because it doesn't effect us.... yet.
Sun 27/04/03 at 01:07
Regular
"---SOULJACKER---"
Posts: 5,448
You're missing the point...

Yes, SARS is not that bad especially when you look at how many people die of other diseased like Ebola every year. However, that's not why people are worried...

In the whole of World War I, 10 million people were killed. In the year after the war ended, 18 million people died from the flu virus. Of all the viruses out there, the flu virus is the most adaptive, most transmitted, and one of the most contageous (each person in England has an average of 2 bouts of flu a year). The worry is that a new strain of the virus will emerge that is even worse than the 1919 virus - spread by more frequent aircraft travel.

SARS is not that strain that I am speaking of, but the worry is that it could mutate into it. At the very least, it's a warning that a killed strain is inevitable. If countries like Canada (see next paragraph) are dealing with SARS so poorly, what about a true killed virus.

As for Toronto being on the WHO list of places to avoid, this is the Canadian government's own fault. The WHO specifically gave instructions to governments in SARS infected countries to screen people of SARS as they entered and left infected areas. Yet the government ignored this advice, and simply handed out leaflets to people. As a result, five SARS infected people have spread the virus to other countries, and hundreds and in quaranteen - just imagine if one of these people had a mutated form of the virus that spread more easily!

Personally, I have already cancelled travel to China (was meant to be spending a month there and in HK) as much for SARS as the fact that my travel insurance doesn't cover me for going against the foreign office's advice.

SonicRav
Sat 26/04/03 at 19:53
Regular
"Bored, Bored, Bored"
Posts: 611
cookie monster wrote:
> This has been very interesting to read. Whilst nuclear weapons are the
> most threatening weapon, biological attacks from parties who wont
> conform to the Geneva convention (i think thats where biological
> attacks were banned?) are a possibility.
>
> As Hooplah said the sort of viruses that instill fear just by
> mentioning their names are very difficult to get hold of. But to be
> honest do we know how much money some terrorist organisations have
> access to?
>
> Who is to say there aren't hundreds of wealthy businessmen who are
> contributing to terrorist organisations with thousand, or million
> dollar cheques? (obviously not actual cheques, that would be too
> traceable, probably)
>
> An organisation with focused goals and considerable funds are
> undoubtedly capable of much damage.

This is why I feel that a change in thinking is needed. All the while we are rushing to kill each other nothing will ever be solved. If we cannot address WHY these organisations exist, then we will never be free of the 'Terror' that they install.

These organisations are well funded, but the resposibility falls to those selling the ability to produce this type of weapon. Could an adult give a young child a gun, then not be held accoutable if it injures itself, or another? I don't think so, and the same logic must be applied.

Whatever your stance over the recent Iraq thing, you have to agree that by giving Hussen biological capability, the blood of those murdered by those weapons is on the hands of those responsible for selling them to him.
Sat 26/04/03 at 19:46
Regular
"Bored, Bored, Bored"
Posts: 611
Donít backtrack, you quoted those points about Ebola Zaire as if they were fact. Only when called out did you mention ĎOf course I was aware that itís not airborneí

Why even use Ebola as an example, simply make up a virus, isnít that what youíve effectively done??

Or perhaps I should counter with the argument: ĎImagine this, Aliens come down tomorrow and show us the cure for everything, so it doesnít matter about your virus at allí

Slightly ridiculous isnít it, as itís hard to discuss anything seriously when one party starts making things up.

Start Fury wrote:
The point is that these animals made it out of areas and were only then picked up by officials as having a variant of Ebola. I'm no science whiz but to me that shows that it's perfectly possible for an Ebola carrying animal to be shipped out of a country to another destination, and that destination may not always be where it is checked.

Itís rare for this to happen now, but yes it is possible. Note that, in every case the virus was picked up in QUARANTINE, thereís really not much more you can do at the receiving end than that. Also, the last case of this reported was in 1996, so improvements have been made. Also, donít forget that Ebola Reston is not dangerous to humans, so no hotspot for Ebola would necessarily be identified - Natives catching Monkeys in the Jungle are hardly likely to be able to test for a form of Ebola, but the quarantine facilities that they are shipped to are.

And yes, airport security can be pretty bad - but you have to remember that you and your mates werenít bringing a level 4 biohazard virus back from Tenerife, if you were then I think the level of attention would be greater than that witnessed. However, I have friends at work who are from Nigeria, Zimbabwe and Cameroon - all professional people and yet have all been subjected to heightened security measures, because of the areas that they have been travelling from.


Star Fury wrote:
When you've finished the criticism do you actually want to address the main point I made that we're woefully not ready for anything like this. Doesn't have to be ebola, you can have smallpox, or any number of things.

And according to http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/ preview/mmwrhtml/00037078.htm the marburg strain was where they identified Ebola from, to quote;

"Further sequencing of the virus glycoprotein gene revealed that the virus is closely related to the Ebola virus isolated during an outbreak of VHF in Zaire in 1976 (1. Ebola virus and Marburg virus are the two known members of the filovirus family. Ebola viruses were first isolated from humans during concurrent outbreaks of VHF in northern Zaire (1) and southern Sudan (2) in 1976."

Which makes the guy on that page right.

Iím not really criticising your initial post, there were just a couple of points about Ebola Zaire that you were wrong about. Now I know that weíre discussing a made up virus that happens to be called Ebola Zaire, thereís no cause for anymore confusion.

The guy on the page is wrong, the statement youíve added confirms that. The Marburg Virus is NOT a strain of Ebola, it is classified in the same family of viruses. Search the net for a picture of the strains of Ebola and the Marburg virus. They are not the same.

I initially responded on the issues of Biohazards and their use as a WOMD, along with my comments on Ebola Zaire (the real one). I stated my feelings on WOMD, I went though what I felt was the unlikelihood of these viruses being obtained by terrorists because of the security around such Biohazards, as well as the difficulty of being able to produce a viable weapon without considerable resource.

I think that you have to be reasonable about what you can and canít do, or things would just spiral out of control. I donít think weíre unprepared for this type of thing, because the controls are in place at the source of the problem to prevent people getting hold of these Biohazards. All of which Iíd pretty much gone over in my original post.
Sat 26/04/03 at 19:05
Regular
"+34 Intellect"
Posts: 21,334
This has been very interesting to read. Whilst nuclear weapons are the most threatening weapon, biological attacks from parties who wont conform to the Geneva convention (i think thats where biological attacks were banned?) are a possibility.

As Hooplah said the sort of viruses that instill fear just by mentioning their names are very difficult to get hold of. But to be honest do we know how much money some terrorist organisations have access to?

Who is to say there aren't hundreds of wealthy businessmen who are contributing to terrorist organisations with thousand, or million dollar cheques? (obviously not actual cheques, that would be too traceable, probably)

An organisation with focused goals and considerable funds are undoubtedly capable of much damage.
Sat 26/04/03 at 18:45
Regular
"Gamertag Star Fury"
Posts: 2,710
Hooplah wrote:
> You failed to mention that initially, insinuating that Ebola spread as
> a common cold would be. In any case, Ebola Zaire can ONLY be
> aerosolised under laboratory conditions

No I didn't fail to mention that, my paragraph was headed up by "Imagine this".....

>
> The list you give does show cases with exported animals being the
> carrier - for Ebola Reston, which as I have stated, and the site
> youíve listed shows, is not dangerous to humans. The ones listed that
> involve an animal are
>
> 1989 Ebola-Reston USA, 0 illness, 0% mortality
> 1990 Ebola-Reston USA , 0 illness, 0% mortality
> 1992 Ebola-Reston Italy, 0 illness, 0% mortality
> 1994 Ebola-Ivory Coast, Ivory Coast, 1 illness 0% mortality
> 1996 Ebola-Zaire Gabon, 31 illness 68% mortality - note that these
> people became ill after finding and eating a dead chimp in the
> forest.
> 1996 Ebola-Reston USA, 0 illness, 0% mortality
> 1996 Ebola-Reston Philippines, 0 illness 0% mortalit
> Iím not sure what you were trying to prove here. Only one non fatal
> contamination of Ebola in the UK since the disease was identified,
> none in the US. As soon as the outbreaks are identified, the areas are
> not places that you just walk into.

The point is that these animals made it out of areas and were only then picked up by officials as having a variant of Ebola. I'm no sicence whizz but to me that shows that it's perfectly possible for an Ebola carrying animal to be shipped out of a country to another destination, and that destination may not always be where it is checked.

>How would you get the sample out
> of the country? You canít get on a plane with medical samples without
> the proper documentation. Try it, next time you get on a plane. Pack
> some test tubes with an unidentified red liquid in your bag, then
> enjoy missing your flight and being grilled for the next ten hours.
> Even carrying too many asthma inhalers will arouse suspicion now.

Well, came back from Tenerife three weeks ago and airport security was laughable both this side and in Tenerife. On this side I walked thorough with 4 asthma inhalers that no one even looked at, one of my mates had a compass in his back pack, another had two lighters. Coming back most of our University group of 60 sailed through security with pretty much the same, and on arriving at East Midlands we all wandered through the empty customs area with well over the legal limit of cigarettes and alcohol for resale.....

Again, I think you have too much trust and faith in a security system which sucks. Asthma inhalers are something that should be looked at because they're basically little aerosols. And if you were talking something major league then a guy could easily get ceramics through security. Sure, they'd catch you with test tubes but nobody serious is that stupid. It'd be hidden, it'd be done well.

When you've finished the criticism do you actually want to address the main point I made that we're woefully not ready for anything like this. Doesn't have to be ebola, you can have smallpox, or any number of things.

And according to http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/ preview/mmwrhtml/00037078.htm the marburg strain was where they identified Ebola from, to quote;

"Further sequencing of the virus glycoprotein gene revealed that the virus is closely related to the Ebola virus isolated during an outbreak of VHF in Zaire in 1976 (1. Ebola virus and Marburg virus are the two known members of the filovirus family. Ebola viruses were first isolated from humans during concurrent outbreaks of VHF in northern Zaire (1) and southern Sudan (2) in 1976."

Which makes the guy on that page right.
Sat 26/04/03 at 13:39
Regular
"Bored, Bored, Bored"
Posts: 611
You failed to mention that initially, insinuating that Ebola spread as a common cold would be. In any case, Ebola Zaire can ONLY be aerosolised under laboratory conditions - conditions that are not able to be duplicated OUTSIDE of those conditions - it cannot be engineered, or altered to transmit as a common cold is.

The list you give does show cases with exported animals being the carrier - for Ebola Reston, which as I have stated, and the site youíve listed shows, is not dangerous to humans. The ones listed that involve an animal are

1989 Ebola-Reston USA, 0 illness, 0% mortality
1990 Ebola-Reston USA , 0 illness, 0% mortality
1992 Ebola-Reston Italy, 0 illness, 0% mortality
1994 Ebola-Ivory Coast, Ivory Coast, 1 illness 0% mortality
1996 Ebola-Zaire Gabon, 31 illness 68% mortality - note that these people became ill after finding and eating a dead chimp in the forest.
1996 Ebola-Reston USA, 0 illness, 0% mortality
1996 Ebola-Reston Philippines, 0 illness 0% mortality

Iím not sure what you were trying to prove here. Only one non fatal contamination of Ebola in the UK since the disease was identified, none in the US. As soon as the outbreaks are identified, the areas are not places that you just walk into. How would you get the sample out of the country? You canít get on a plane with medical samples without the proper documentation. Try it, next time you get on a plane. Pack some test tubes with an unidentified red liquid in your bag, then enjoy missing your flight and being grilled for the next ten hours. Even carrying too many asthma inhalers will arouse suspicion now.

The page you list for the retired colonel quite obviously does not no his stuff. He states that Marburg is a variety of Ebola, which is incorrect. Marburg is from the same family of viruses, but is not the same as Ebola. He also mentions that Iraq has developed biological organisms - well who sold it to him in the first place, both the organism and the technology to cultivate it?

I didnít read much further after that.

Yes, the Aum Shinrikyo cult did try to obtain Ebola - but did they succeed?? No. Case closed.

Well, thatís it really.
Sat 26/04/03 at 10:45
Regular
"Gamertag Star Fury"
Posts: 2,710
I'm quite aware Ebola is not naturally airborne but it can be engineered so. Whilst it would require facilities it is not a situation that can be understated. Whatever the ideas of WMD and control, the fact is we cannot contain a relatively minor virus, let alone a major killer.

I also think your faith in access to disease hotspot areas being controlled is somewhat overstated;

http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/spb/ mnpages/dispages/ebotabl.htm

Lists numerous cases caused by exported animals and by other events which could in no way be found and access controlled to immediately.

This guy;

http://www.newsmax.com/archives/ articles/2001/10/12/82239.shtml

also has similarfears, and as a retired MD and colonel I think he knows his stuff ?

http://members.aol.com/ webmedic4u/Biochem.html

Above site also details how the Aum Shinrikyo cult tried to obatin Ebola on 9 occasions.

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