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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Blasphemy Week: Ebola.

So I have to step it up. Although I usually rant on and on about how beautiful the world is, this is Halloween. I did just about the only thing I could think of that this blog has not done: Have a week full of things that disprove the existence of a loving God.

The keyword there is "loving." I'm OK with God or what have you being the bang-zoom that got the universe started. Nature, however, is a bloody, mangled, violent venture. One could argue that natural selection, which is pretty darn hard to disprove, ultimately makes a species 'better,' but that's still a lot of blood lost for one 'perfect' individual that will eventually die anyways - hardly 'loving' in any sense of the word. These are the things in nature that would make Saw sleep with his lights on asking "why?"

The squiggle that kills millions.


That said, onto our first monster of the week: Ebola haemorrhagic fever, AKA the Ebola virus. There are five species, each of which named more for its regional distribution than anything else.  All of them are rather nasty, although some are slightly nicer than others. The fatality rate can be up to 90% in an outbreak, and it is not a merciful death. The most common vectors are African fruit bats, but a fair amount of mammals, including humans, can pass it to people. If one person in an African village gets Ebola, that village is usually screwed.

This virus attacks everything. It starts as a general malaise, including fever, then escalates into a flu. Things quickly get worse with headaches, muscle and joint aches, diarrhea, sore throat, and stomach pain. Strangely enough, hiccups are also a symptom. Headaches indicate an attack on the central nervous system. Yeah, no part of the body is safe from this thing.

You must be at least THAT covered to approach Ebola.


The word "haemorrhagic" should be enough to tell you that the mild flulike symptoms get even worse. Someone with Ebola bleeds from everywhere. Any place with a mucous membrane (most notably nose and nether regions) starts gushing with blood. Their body gets covered in bleeding rashes, effectively making them sweat blood. On the plus side, this allows the virus to replicate itself further; contact with bodily fluid from anybody with Ebola is enough to spread it.  Small wonder Ebola is treated as a Class A Bio-weapon- it makes people suffer.

The good news is, Ebola happens mostly in underdeveloped countries in Africa. It rarely crosses over into places with proper sanitation.  The people really have enough to deal with, including starvation, military control, malaria, and vicious animals that are commonly shown on nature programs. There is an amazing amount of trouble there already. If the meek were really blessed, why create a disease that makes one bleed from all orifices? Not the work of a loving deity, there.

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