Ebola is not the next pandemic. Finally, a common sense view

RASHMEE ROSHAN LALL September 2, 2014

The-Ebola-Outbreak-Is-Spreading-Pray-to-God-It-Doesn’t-Hitch-A-Ride-To-The-WestThe next pandemic will erupt, not from the jungle, but from the disease factories of hospitals, refugee camps and cities, writes Aeon magazine in a truly terrifying piece. (Click here to read the article). So is Ebola the next pandemic? No, despite the terror induced by the disease. It may be murderous but it “doesn’t have what it takes to produce a pandemic” ie a worldwide outbreak of infectious disease. So says Atlanta-based anthropologist Wendy Orent, who wrote ‘Plague: The Mysterious Past and Terrifying Future of the World’s Most Dangerous Disease’ in 2012. Ms Orent argues that Ebola “spreads only through intimate contact with infected body fluids” and to that extent, is easy to avoid. “…Just refrain from touching sweat, blood or the bodies of the sick or dead.” She further points out that Ebola is a good example of a pathogen that is too virulent to “force its new human host to act as a germ dispensary system: sneezing, coughing, spewing germ-laden particles in the air, or passing them through diarrhoea…if you are flattened immediately, the pathogen could be too virulent, immobilising you so thoroughly that you can’t get out to spread the disease.” Ms Orent’s reasoning sounds devastatingly sensible. One has to wonder why CDC, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also in Atlanta, isn’t spreading a bit of the common sense view of Ebola? (Tomorrow: No logic can quell our pandemic paranoia)

Jack Kerouac

“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life”
– Jack Kerouac