Thursday, October 2, 2014

Lots of people protesting

A guy with one of those hobbiest style four-prop helicopter drones took video of the Hong Kong protests (a little more here) (hat tip: NC). There is not sound.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Finally here

Ebola in the U.S.  Or to be more specific, in Dallas.

Government confirms first case of Ebola in US
AP through News & Observer (Raleigh, NC), 30 September 2013
After arriving in the U.S. on Sept. 20, the patient began to develop symptoms on Sept. 24 and initially sought care two days later, Frieden said. The patient was admitted to the hospital on Sept. 28, when Texas Health Presbyterian put him under strict isolation. Blood tests by Texas health officials and the CDC separately confirmed an Ebola diagnosis on Tuesday.
Frieden would not reveal the patient’s nationality or age.
Asked how many people the patient may have had close contact with in that time period, Frieden said, “I think a handful is the right characterization.”
Note per our discussions in the last post, Ebola can gestate up to 21 days, but like many diseases, the symptoms (coughing, sneezing, biting, vomiting) are how it transmits to another host.  So the long gestation period does help it to spread around, it tends to kill its host too quickly during the time period in which it is infectious.  So much so that preparation of the body for the funeral is a common method that it is transmitted.
Note though, that the fact we still knowingly allow nonessential travel (family visits) from countries suffering from a potentially pandemic event, I think indicates that we have not seriously internalized the danger present.

Read more here:

Monday, September 29, 2014

70% tippping point

Since so many of the apocalyptic novels that I review are pandemic in nature.  I thought this was a very good tool for a fictional writer trying to be a little more realistic in their pandemic scenario.

The Magic Number That Could End the Ebola Epidemic
Tom Randall, Bloomburg, 26 September 2014 (hat tip: NC)
But perhaps the most important Ebola number right now is 70 percent. That’s the proportion of patients who need to be isolated -- in treatment centers or at least in their homes -- in order to put a quick end to the Ebola outbreak, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Once 70 percent of patients are effectively isolated, the outbreak decreases at a rate nearly equal to the initial rate of increase,” researchers wrote today in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. If 70 percent of the current outbreak was achieved by late December, the epidemic “would be almost ended by January 20.”

Ebola's problem is that it kills its host too quickly (6 days assumed which includes burial time), and is not an airborne transmitted disease.  The studies transmission rate is set at 30%/day for those in the same home with no isolation .  The number is 2% for hospitalized, 3% for home care with appropriate precautions.
Note that killing your host does not actually help the virus/bacteria.  That is why a lot of lethal disease mutate to tone down their deadliness over time.  The lethal bugs are out competed by the less lethal ones that allow the host to walk around spreading them longer. 
On a second note, as best I can tell,  the reason why animal vectored diseases are often so deadly is because the "bug" often doesn't need to keep the host alive for as lengthy of a period.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

No Room! No Room!

The title to this piece is a play on the title of Harry Harrison's Make Room! Make Room! which was the basis for the movie, favorite Charleton Heston cannibal movie, Soylent Green.

The panic over population waned somewhere in the early 1980s.  Likely a factor of (borrowed) renewed economic prosperity, and convenient projections that the worlds population would peak out somewhere around 10 billion.

Well maybe not.

World population to hit 11bn in 2100 – with 70% chance of continuous rise
Damian Carrington, The Guardian (U.K.), 18 September 2014 (hat tip: NC)
The world’s population is now odds-on to swell ever-higher for the rest of the century, posing grave challenges for food supplies, healthcare and social cohesion. A ground-breaking analysis released on Thursday shows there is a 70% chance that the number of people on the planet will rise continuously from 7bn today to 11bn in 2100.
The work overturns 20 years of consensus that global population, and the stresses it brings, will peak by 2050 at about 9bn people. “The previous projections said this problem was going to go away so it took the focus off the population issue,” said Prof Adrian Raftery, at the University of Washington, who led the international research team. “There is now a strong argument that population should return to the top of the international agenda. Population is the driver of just about everything else and rapid population growth can exacerbate all kinds of challenges.” Lack of healthcare, poverty, pollution and rising unrest and crime are all problems linked to booming populations, he said.
I should mention that No Room! No Room! is also a quote from the beginning of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland: Chapter 7: aka: The Mad Tea Party.
There was a table set out under a tree in front of the house, and the March Hare and the Hatter were having tea at it: a Dormouse was sitting between them, fast asleep, and the other two were using it as a cushion, resting their elbows on it, and talking over its head. `Very uncomfortable for the Dormouse,' thought Alice; `only, as it's asleep, I suppose it doesn't mind.'
The table was a large one, but the three were all crowded together at one corner of it: `No room! No room!' they cried out when they saw Alice coming. `There's plenty of room!' said Alice indignantly, and she sat down in a large arm-chair at one end of the table.
Two days in a row mentioning Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.