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(NBC News)   Teenage boy and girl "didn't stand a chance" after being attacked by bats infected with terrifying new mix of rabies and Ebola. This is not a pre-credits scene of this year's big Halloween flick   (vitals.nbcnews.com) divider line 128
    More: Scary, ebola, Halloween, u.s. aid, representative democracies, forensic sciences, scientific journal  
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17915 clicks; posted to Main » on 28 Sep 2012 at 1:31 PM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-09-28 04:24:43 PM

Great Porn Dragon: As others have put it, it's a little from column A, a little from column B, and even a little from columns C and D that you didn't mention:


You left out cannabalism
 
2012-09-28 04:32:48 PM

Great Porn Dragon: Gyrfalcon: If it kills in three days, it kills way too fast to become pandemic. Like Ebola, it's going to be self-limiting until the transmission time gets a little longer.

That's not meant to be reassuring.

The one thing I worry about is that rhabdoviruses tend to be transmitted by a lot of body fluid vectors, and if it acts at all like the other rhabdoviruses (not just rabies, but the other rabies-like bat rhabdoviruses like Australian bat lyssavirus et al) merely being rapidly fatal pretty much isn't going to stop it from being established--the one bad thing about rhabdoviruses is that there is a lot of virus shed and usually a fairly long incubation period before symptoms show. (Rabies is typically fatal within 72 hours of symptom presentation, but turns out to be actually trasmissible before symptoms show up--we don't know if that's true for Bas-Congo rhabdovirus yet, as it does seem to be an emerging rhabdovirus.)


Oh, and even worse--apparently the closest rhabdovirus relative of Bas-Congo is actually insect transmissible. From the article:

It worries Chiu because its closest relative is spread by biting flies in Australia. "We think that is potentially a valuable clue. This virus may have come from an insect vector," Chiu says. "What is scary about this virus is if it does happen to be spread by insects, it has the potential to be something like West Nile."

Anyways, if folks are interested, here's the latest ProMED-mail writeup on Bas-Congo and the PLOS Pathogens paper on Bas-Congo (the latter is a fairly technical paper).

As it turns out, this is not only a new rhabdovirus but (unusually) one that is not terribly close to rabies--it's probably the most divergent of rhabdoviruses (as if the haemorrhagic fever didn't give it away) and is pretty much in the process of evolving to the point it CAN infect people--a rare case where an emerging disease was caught RIGHT as it emerged.

(For those unfamiliar with rhabdovirus classification--the main two families that humans have to worry about are lyssaviruses (the classic rabies virus and rabies-like viruses like Australian bat lyssavirus and the two European bat lyssaviruses along with one or two African lyssaviruses--fortunately, rabies vaccine works on them all :D) and vesiculoviruses (which don't kill the fark out of you like rabies (thank Tzeentch) save for Chandipura encephalitis, but generally cause diseases in cattle and humans that are flu-like and often cause painful mouth sores). There's a few other known rhabdovirus families but these pretty much just infect insects.)

One out of the three people infected with Bas-Congo actually lived with medical treatment (so we're already doing better than rabies so far--which has about eight known survivors with the Wisconsin protocol) and genetic studies show Bas-Congo is so divergent (especially compared with the two branches of the rhabdovirus family that DO make humans sick) that it's basically its own branch of rhabdoviruses. The closest relatives are in the "Tibrogargan group", a group of rhabdoviruses in Australia that include Tibrogargan virus and Coastal Plains rhabdovirus--which don't infect humans, but are transmissible by midge bites and which seem to infect midges and livestock (though it doesn't even make livestock sick).

Worrisomely, not only is it related to a transmissible-by-insects rhabdovirus, there is evidence that (more like vesiculoviruses than rabies) that you CAN have limited human-to-human spread

(So yes, in addition to being a "rabies-relative" haemorrhagic fever, it's potentially transmissible by no-see-ums and at least by body fluids. Sleep tight.)

Interestingly, there is precedent for rhabdoviruses to cause haemorrhagic fevers...in fish, from rhabdoviruses not transmissible to humans (severe haemorrhagic septicemia of the type that occurs in salmon is a rhabdovirus).
 
2012-09-28 04:52:26 PM
i.ytimg.com
Still not worse than Hitler AIDS
 
2012-09-28 04:55:12 PM
So, to summarize:

Australia has all the terrifying metazoa.
Africa has all the terrifying microzoa.

Let's hope that they never combine forces.
 
2012-09-28 04:57:09 PM
2.bp.blogspot.com
"They want their weapon!"
 
2012-09-28 05:32:05 PM

skullkrusher: man, Africa sucks


Why do you think humanity has spent thousands of years migrating to all points on the globe?
To get the fark away from Africa, that's why!
 
2012-09-28 05:32:38 PM
Slaves2Darkness: Nah, but a major die off of humans is due, if we are lucky it will only be about 1/3 of the human race

2KanZam: How great would that be!


It's easy to be sanguine about herd dynamics when you're not part of the herd.

I learned this during the DC sniper incident. I suddenly became part of the herd. i didn't like it.

Lesson: Make sure you're not part of the herd before welcoming a cull.
 
2012-09-28 06:55:36 PM
The Stealth Hippopotamus:
Do we have to have politics in every thread?!


I wanted to crack a SyFy joke. lost interest now.


Those are helpful hints as to which usernames to put on "ignore".
 
2012-09-28 07:55:56 PM
It's too bad people don't realize there are actually different countries in Africa which are completely unique.

/would l
 
2012-09-28 07:58:10 PM
It's too bad people don't realize there are actually different countries in Africa which are completely unique.

/would like to visit Senegal and Cameroon.

FTFM. Damn posting while drunk on a phone.
 
2012-09-28 08:05:58 PM

thoughtsausage: Here's the original article for anybody interested in the science.

/SCIENCE!


That. is. AWESOME!!! My inner and too-long-dormant microbiologist is insipidly excited about this.
 
2012-09-28 08:09:13 PM

Hollie Maea: Christ. The Congo River drainage basin is eventually going to kill us all.


Maybe we should move everyone out of there and fence it off.

\Half serious.
\\Okay Three Quarters Serious
 
2012-09-28 08:35:23 PM

GRCooper: Gyrfalcon: If it kills in three days, it kills way too fast to become pandemic. Like Ebola, it's going to be self-limiting until the transmission time gets a little longer.

That's not meant to be reassuring.

I assume you mean incubation rather than transmission

/M.O.O.N. spells we're all farked


Yeah, brain fart on the word. Happens when you get old.
 
2012-09-28 08:52:56 PM

Great Porn Dragon: Great Porn Dragon


You sound like an epidemiologist. What do you think our chances are of preventing further transmission of this virus to humans if we, say, burn down everything?

/Thanks for the writeup. Farking zoonotic diseases...
 
2012-09-28 09:14:57 PM

Gyrfalcon: If it kills in three days, it kills way too fast to become pandemic. Like Ebola, it's going to be self-limiting until the transmission time gets a little longer.

That's not meant to be reassuring.


So like...until it adopts the rabies part of incubating for upwards of a year?
 
2012-09-28 09:27:01 PM

chasd00: DrySocket: What are we going to call it? Rabola? Ebolabies? Rabebolabies?

How about "democrat"?


How about we call it Obama? That sounds African.
 
2012-09-28 09:28:52 PM

asmodeus224: DrySocket: What are we going to call it? Rabola? Ebolabies? Rabebolabies?

Obamabola


Sorry.
 
2012-09-28 09:54:14 PM
I assume you mean incubation rather than transmission

Yeah, brain fart on the word. Happens when you get old.


s'cool. Just wanted to jump in with that before everyone got all "ZOMG, U TARD!!"

/old folks gotta stick together
 
2012-09-28 10:33:38 PM

bobbette: Great Porn Dragon: Great Porn Dragon

You sound like an epidemiologist. What do you think our chances are of preventing further transmission of this virus to humans if we, say, burn down everything?

/Thanks for the writeup. Farking zoonotic diseases...


Not an epidemiologist, more of a medical geek than anything (though the sort who reads epidemiological journals for fun, and who has a friend who does work with Retroviruses For Good, so I guess that counts for something :D)

That said...one of the more worrisome things is we don't really know this thing's natural host yet, and keeping this from becoming a major disease threat depends largely on knowing this virus' hosts in the wild and the ways it could be transmissible. (This isn't the only African emerging disease we have issues with this on, by the way--we're still trying to find the definitive host of the filoviral haemorrhagic fevers like Ebola and Marburg. Some of the more recent research points to fruit-eating bats, but there's still some work to do on this and it's not 100% crystal clear yet; most of the other recent infectious diseases out of Africa we've been pretty lucky with in finding definitive hosts and/or "parent diseases".)

If a disease has an insect vector and the virus can stay alive inside an insect, the odds of it spreading depend on how common that insect is and if the virus can "jump ship" to related insects and to other wild animals. One particular nasty in Africa did just that a few years back--West Nile was pretty restricted to the Mediterranean until a sick passenger boarded an airplane and landed in New York City and was bitten by mosquitos...which also tended to bite birds, and which in very short order set up such an endemic base for West Nile that it's pretty much permanently established in the US now.

(This doesn't always happen--it's more common with viral diseases, but doesn't always happen. The big question with Bas-Congo is if it's transmittable by midges (tiny biting flies, basically what they call no-see-ums in the North Woods) and--just as important, maybe more so--if Bas-Congo can infect non-African midges in such a way that infected midges can transmit disease to humans. If so, and if Bas-Congo can infect midges like West Nile Virus infected mosquitos here in the States and someone with Bas-Congo manages to get on a plane back from their trip to Kinshasa...gods help anyone going on a camping trip up in the UP in future. :P)

If it's something like Sin Nombre hantavirus or Lassa fever--that is, the virus gets spread in the poop and pee of a definitive host animal like a mouse or bat--this actually makes it easier to control; you teach people to not go in areas where the definitive host lives, and to make sure the definitive host does not set up shop in places where people live. (This does not require epidemiology labs. The Dine (or Navajo) peoples and other indigenous First Nations in the Southwest US seem to have known about the role played in transmission of Sin Nombre by deer mice (though they interpreted it as a spiritual illness) and seem to have managed to institute basic "don't let deer mice in the hogan or be around deer mice if you don't want to drown in your own lung fluids" public health measures without benefit of microbiology.)

If it's something transmissible via consumption of bushmeat, this gets more complicated, but there has been at least some success in the "don't eat gorilla or chimpanzee meat because it is likely to make you sick" sorts of education; probably would be more difficult if the definitive host turns out to be a flying fox or antelope, though.

The two most certain ways to keep nasties from other countries from coming into the US are as follows:

a) pretty much go New Zealand-style scorched earth and spray every plane/train/automobile/shipping-crate coming into the country with enough insecticide to make passengers legally classifiable as mutants (this seems to have worked so far for New Zealand, but they also get a lot less cargo than in the US...though I'll admit that I've often wondered if we SHOULDN'T go for the New Zealand approach just based on how many damned fungal infections and exotic insect infestations have happened from Asian cargo like emerald ash borer and the like (to the point I think it will be a goddamned miracle if we HAVE native hardwood forests in the next fifty years at the rate we're going--we've lost chestnuts and elms, we're about to lose ash trees, and out West there's now apparently foreign fungi attacking oaks)...)

b) prevent sick people from coming into the US at any port of call, mandatory medical inspections on leaving for a US port of call AND at arrival with mandatory quarantine if a person is found ill (which people WILL scream goddamn blue murder about--hell, they do so about people being confined to isolation wards of hospitals due to XDR-TB and EDR-TB and we still have laws on the books that allow it...though this might, MIGHT have kept West Nile out and aggressive checks at borders did largely keep SARS out).

c) Ban international travel and trade to plague-y areas (yeah, like that's going to happen--even if it's limited bans of "We aren't allowing folks to come from or go to this country with an Epidemic Of Tonsil Pox without a mandatory 14-day quarantine in an isolation ward at state expense")...which is pretty much what used to be done in areas with serious and untreatable communicable illnesses, and why maritime laws allowing for ships to be housed off-shore for upwards to 40 days in quarantine docks still exist.

Even then, lots of communicable diseases have just enough of an infectious-but-looks-well incubation period that we probably won't catch everyone who's sick. (Whooping cough, which is having a bit of an unfortunate revival in the US (thanks in no small part due to antivax idiots turning their homes into veritable Temples of Nurgle despite the fact thimerosal hasn't been in any vaccine approved for kids since at least the early 80s) is kind of infamous for this, actually--there's usually a good two weeks to a month you're spreading pertussis bacteria around before you go into the fun of the Hundred-Day Cough.)

And yes, that's one of the worries with Bas-Congo, too--we know it makes people very ill, will kill people without appropriate medical treatment (which is true of damn near every haemorrhagic fever--even the relatively "mild" ones like Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever or Sin Nombre's hantaviral cousin haemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome) but all of the cases we know of where people came down with actual illnesses showed up already sick in hospital--there's been a few nurses that have shown antibodies to Bas-Congo but didn't fall ill, and we don't know why yet. Hence we don't know what the actual incubation period is--could be short like vesicular stomatitis virus (which has an incubation period of about a week), or it could be like rabies (anywhere from three weeks to a max recorded incubation period of around four years, but that could be due to the rather weird way in how lyssaviruses preferentially replicate in nerve cells and go up the peripheral nervous system)--it's a very new infectious disease not terribly related to other rhabdoviruses that infect humans, so we won't know unless we manage to catch a case where someone sick with Bas-Congo manages to make someone ELSE sick.

That said--Bas-Congo is actually one of the viral haemorrhagic fevers that is a "watchful waiting by epidemiologists" sort of thing and largely of interest because we've never seen a mammal-specific haemorrhagic rhabdovirus--there's VHFs that are far more of a likely public health threat in the US. Probably the biggie in this is dengue fever, which is starting to become established in mosquitos along the Gulf Coast in Texas (pretty much all of Central America is infected and Mexico has been dealing with dengue since the 80s, and this is the spread of an ongoing enzooitic in skeeters), has a type of haemorrhagic fever (dengue haemorrhagic fever) that has fatality rates of 40 percent, can spread very easily to mosquitoes native and established in the US a la West Nile Virus, has no treatment, and no vaccine so far--at least no vaccines that haven't had to be discontinued because they put people at a WORSE risk of dengue haemorrhagic fever (part of the Bad Stuff that happens in haemorrhagic dengue may be similar to that of almost-100-percent-fatal-when-it-existed "black smallpox" or haemorrhagic smallpox--cytokine storms and the immune system in general going quite sideways). There's work on vaccines now that won't trigger a cytokine storm if you get infected with it--hopefully research will be fruitful and we can someday vaccinate against dengue like we do yellow fever now. (Then again, I'm also still waiting for an approved vaccine in the US for dengue's other cousin, West Nile virus--I think that Texas in particular would think that would be useful.)

(And before someone brings out "OMG DDT!"--uh, the mosquito species in question is quite resistant to DDT and has been since at least the late 50s in the US--much less in other dengue-infected countries where DDT is still licensed for mosquito control despite the fact it does Sweet Fark All to mosquito populations anymore.)

I'd also argue that we have more to worry about from all the South American haemorrhagic fevers (of which there are at least six of them, all related, all of these related to Lassa fever (of all things), and spread--like Lassa fever and Sin Nombre hantavirus--through rodent pee and poo), but so far these seem restricted to various South American cane mice and similar rodents and can be largely prevented by the same measures we use to prevent hantavirus.
 
2012-09-28 10:40:13 PM

cuzsis: Gyrfalcon: If it kills in three days, it kills way too fast to become pandemic. Like Ebola, it's going to be self-limiting until the transmission time gets a little longer.

That's not meant to be reassuring.

So like...until it adopts the rabies part of incubating for upwards of a year?


Again, we don't know the incubation period--the closest relatives of this particular rhabdovirus don't even infect mammals but are of a clade that normally infects biting flies, so this is far enough removed from the two clades of rhabdoviruses that DO infect humans that we don't know what to expect.

It's a little closer to vesiculoviruses (the relatively milder, week-to-two-week incubation, "break out the Anbesol to eat for the next week because of the damn blisters in your mouth" rhabdoviruses--they do cause pretty significant morbidity in cattle but that's because Bessie can't eat, not because it turns Bessie paralytic)...but it's far enough removed from the "mammal-infectious" vesiculoviruses we don't know what to expect; its closest relatives can at least trigger antibody responses in cows but don't make the cows sick, so it's not like we have anything to go by for an incubation period.

That's one thing that the epidemiologists watching Bas-Congo haemorrhagic fever hope to learn if it breaks out again--basically "what is the incubation period, is it closer to lyssavirus incubation or closer to vesiculovirus incubation" (it's looking closer to the latter, but we really only have four data points to deal with at all).
 
2012-09-28 11:25:32 PM

cuzsis: Gyrfalcon: If it kills in three days, it kills way too fast to become pandemic. Like Ebola, it's going to be self-limiting until the transmission time gets a little longer.

That's not meant to be reassuring.

So like...until it adopts the rabies part of incubating for upwards of a year?


We'd have more rabies epidemics if there wasn't an effective vaccine. Look at what happened with HIV--the main reason it became pandemic is it's got a 20-year effective incubation and transmission period before it kills the host. So far, the only thing preventing a hemorrhagic fever pandemic is the fact that it kills so fast--all the potential hosts die before they can carry the disease beyond a given area.

So if this thing kills in under a week, nobody's going to survive long enough to create a transmission ripple. Unless it goes airborne, which it hasn't at present. But then neither have most hemorrhagic viruses.
 
2012-09-28 11:55:22 PM
Scary how some events are coming very close to this book...

Dust by Charles Pellegrino.

Had crazy bat super rabies. XD
 
2012-09-29 12:44:20 AM
Farkin' REBOLAtm... comes back to bite you in the ass twice.
We're getting closer to this... just watch...
thisdistractedglobe.com
/hot
 
2012-09-29 03:04:28 AM

A. Snatchfold: It's too bad people don't realize there are actually different countries in Africa which are completely unique.

/would like to visit Senegal and Cameroon.

FTFM. Damn posting while drunk on a phone.


Oh I think they're aware (or I hope at least), but I have not had anyone tell me anything about any country in Africa that would make me want to visit. Maybe at one point I would have wanted to go to Egypt, but certainly not now. I might consider South Africa, but the desire is less than 10%. Everyone's different though.
 
2012-09-29 04:31:44 AM
Evolution keeps throwing darts at us. Eventually one is going to stick.
 
2012-09-29 06:47:31 AM
Don't worry folks. I spent six months last year eating warm tasty bushmeat from west Africa (Ghana to be exact). Looked like Tyra Banks, tasted like chicken. Didn't die, just a bad case of chlamydia.
 
2012-09-29 05:32:08 PM

DrySocket: What are we going to call it? Rabola? Ebolabies? Rabebolabies?


May I suggest Rabolabies? I do like Rabebolabies, though.
 
2012-09-30 12:46:13 AM

whither_apophis: In the rabid kitten thread I said I'd rather get ebola... I'm just going duct tape my house now.


can I join you? I'll bring the MREs.....yes I have some on order, I live in Wisconsin, and have a damn electric stove, if we lose power due to snow/ice I don't want to starve.
 
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