Very interesting article on filoviruses in Popular Science from David Quammen's new book, Spillover . Style of the article reminded me a lot of Richard Preston's excellent The Hot Zone (1994) and covers similar territory with more upto date insight, information and examples including the background to the 2008 CCD, WHO amd NICD paper on discovery of Marbug virus reservour n a large fruit bat Colony in Uganda.
The dangers presented by zoonoses (transferance of animal disease to humans) are real and severe, but the degree of uncertainties is also high. Too many factors vary randomly, or almost randomly, in that system. Prediction, in general, so far as all these diseases are concerned, is a tenuous proposition, more likely to yield false confidence than actionable intelligence. The practical alternative to soothsaying, as one expert put it, is “improving the scientific basis to improve readiness.” By “the scientific basis” he meant the understanding of which virus groups to watch, the field capabilities to detect spillovers in remote places before they become regional outbreaks, the organizational capacities to control outbreaks before they become pandemics, plus the laboratory tools and skills to recognize known viruses speedily, to characterize new viruses almost as fast, and to create vaccines and therapies without much delay. If we can’t predict a forthcoming influenza pandemic or any other newly emergent virus, we can at least be vigilant; we can be well prepared and quick to respond; we can be ingenious and scientifically sophisticated in the forms of our response. Good article and Quammen's book is on the must read list for this year. Learn more by clicking on the image or the title for more information.