Cat: Viruses

My just a sniffle turned out to be more than just a sniffle. At this point I am experiencing a full on cold which is advancing its way down into my throat and into my lungs. My face still oozes and I have entered the incessant coughing phase…at least when I lie down. As long as I’m vertical from the chest up it’s occasional coughing. And I ache all over and my bones are grinding, which is, a body state of emergency. According to Problem Machine, I should lie down and drink tea laced with whiskey all week.

I’ve definitely cancelled my San Francisco trip this Friday, on account of being incapacitated and infectious.

The live-state Kellis-Amberlee Virus, that is, the zombie virus in Mira Grant’s Newsflesh series, can (according to the internet) be transmitted via fluid-exchange, but is not aerosolized. Still, the active virus can persist in droplets and on solid surfaces for days. Which is to say it’s pretty robust. It’s not as communicable as the common cold, but it’s close.

I should clarify how that works. Everyone and every mammal in the Newsflesh series is infected with Kellis-Amberlee in its dormant state, and the zombification process is triggered when the virus goes from dormant to active, called viral amplification. Dormant KA goes active when it interacts with active KA, so usually amplification nucleates from the vector point (say a zombie bite or zombie puke through the orbits). Once amplification begins transition from functional human to hostile zombie can take place in less than an hour.

Considering how robust it is, it sounds like Kellis-Amberlee requires a greater viral load for amplification than the common cold (needs for infection). A fun (read: horrific) thought experiment is considered in the movie Outbreak (1995, Dustin Hoffman) which tells the story of an outbreak of the Motaba virus (essentially Ebola that communicates like the flu). Because it’s a Hollywood movie which required action and suspense, a conspiracy between high-ranking US Army officers to weaponize Motaba is also involved.

Ebola is scary because it kills often and is really ugly (The symptoms of Ebola are often compared to the symptoms of high explosives, the virus essentially turns a hapless victim into mush). Morbidity can be from 30% to 90% which is why US hospitals and officials freaked out about travelers from West African Ebola hot zones during the 2014 outbreak as if they were carrying alien embryos. On the other hand, Ebola requires fluid-contact. It’s around the communicability of HIV, except that symptoms can start appearing in hours.* So it doesn’t have the HIV transmission advantage of operating slowly and patiently and waiting for the victim to get all romantic with new partners before finally showing symptoms ten years later.

In the meantime, the common cold doesn’t kill me with hemorrhagic fever, but it does make me hurt enough to wish I were dead, (or at least very unconscious). And it does make me groan and shamble when I’m moving about, say walking the dog.

No appetite for brains, though. Very little appetite at all.

* During the 2014 crisis, there was debate regarding whether or not it was communicated sexually: the virus was detected in the semen of male patients, but no specific instance of sexual communication was identified. Then again, it’s hard to feel amorous when your insides are melting. Ebola victims just may not have had the opportunity.

Then, it was noted the virus was found intact in droplets, and try as some press-guy might, he couldn’t get a virologist to suggest aerosol transmission was possible, except as a remote hypothesis. Journalists reported it was airborne anyway, and it caused a world panic while the internet went wait! what? There hasn’t yet been a single case of actual aerosol Ebola transmission. Poor needle-use protocols, yeah. Sharing water with open mouth sores, yep. Poor infected-monkey-meat handling, possibly. Heavy kissing and sex, maybe. Coughing on someone, not at all.

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