A Brief History of Ebola, Part 1

Title shamelessly cribbed from A Brief History of Time, by Stephen Hawking. (Read it if you haven’t, it’s a great book.)

 

So by now everybody and their dog has at least heard of the Ebola outbreak in Africa. Now, I see that there’s a whole bunch of misinformation going around, and a despairingly large number of FUCKING RETARDS who think that Ebola, motherfucking EBOLA isn’t kind of a big deal. On the flipside, we have the alarmists and tinfoil hat conspiracy theorists. They should be lined up and shot as well.

Or, maybe these people should be given everything they want (in regards to Ebola), and be volunteered to go into the hot zone to test experimental vaccines. Yeah, that’s a more productive use for them. Better than animal testing, at least!

 

But I digress.

 

I’m not here to write about which societal strata should be up against the wall first (vaccine scaremongers, you’re up), I’m here to write about possibly my most favouritest virus in the whole wide world: Ebola.

I’ll be telling you exactly how it was discovered, what it is, how it kills, and why we should be worried, but not too worried about the scale of the latest outbreak.

 

Part 1: Ebolavirus

First things first: What’s a virus? To paraphrase a quote, “A virus is a string of bad news wrapped in a protein shell.”

There’s a very big distinction between bacteria and viruses, chief of which is the fact that bacteria can replicate on their own, and a virus must infect a host cell to replicate.

Viruses are tiny, smaller than the smallest bacterium – most are around the order of a few hundreds of nanometres in diameter. They don’t have cytoplasm or cellular organelles, nor do they contain a nucleus, but they do have a strand of either DNA or RNA, encoding all of their vital proteins.

Most importantly, very few viral infections are amenable to drug therapy. Ebola especially, with its striking lethality and, until now, mostly unknown pathobiology.

 

The first cases of Ebola haemorrhagic fever were seen in 1976, with simultaneous outbreaks in Nzara, Sudan, and in Yambuku, Democratic Republic of Congo (then known as Zaire). By this time, Marburg haemorrhagic fever was already known of, with 31 cases in Germany and Yugoslavia in 1967. Both of these diseases are now known to be caused by members of viral family Filoviridae, but in separate genus.1

 

Transmission of the virus is by contact with infected bodily fluids – patients are contagious as long as their secretions contain the virus. This can be as long as seven weeks after they recover.

Now, some are worried about spread of Ebola and associated viruses by aerosol. This is actually a danger, although not as immediate as some are concerned it could be. A related Filovirus, Reston ebolavirus (RESTV) was seen to bud from alveolar linings in infected monkeys, leading to the fear that it was transmissible by aerosol. This proved to be realised when the virus jumped the species gap, with no contact with the infected animals by humans.

Fortunately, RESTV does NOT cause serious illness in humans. Still, it drives home the point that the current strains causing the 2014 epidemic have the possibility of mutating to be conducive to aerosol spread. Scary stuff, but take heart in the fact that family Filoviridae viruses have very low rates of mutation, around 1/100th the rate of influenza.

 

Ebola haemorrhagic fever disease progression can vary considerably, with onset of initial symptoms between 2 and 21 days after infection. The disease runs its course typically over 14 to 21 days. Infection initially presents with nonspecific flu-like symptoms such as fever, myalgia (muscle pain), and malaise. As the infection progresses, patients exhibit severe bleeding and coagulation abnormalities, including gastrointestinal bleeding, rash, and a range of haematological irregularities.

Just to drive the point home of how appallingly deadly a virus Ebola is, here are some rather graphic descriptions from the initial 1967 Democratic Republic of Congo outbreak.

 

“…Blood was oozing from needle puncture sites, from any part of the skin that had been penetrated, and in some cases from their noses, gums, from the bowels and in some women from the wombs.”2

“I started interviewing people who had recovered… …They had suffered a total desquamation. They had shed the skin of their hands and feet, the hair from their heads, even their nails.”2

“I had no place to lay my instruments, so they stuck out of a bucket of formalin like a porcupine. I had to kneel down to do it [an autopsy] on the grass. Then it started to rain. If I pricked myself through my gloves or my rain-soaked gown, I was as good as dead. I opened the guy up – just made a cut and his abdominal fluid oozed this red serous fluid, his liver was like a purple water balloon filled with blood. As soon as I cut it, it was bulging – the normal tissues seemed to have melted away.”2

 

Ebola virus is deadly for a number of reasons, chief among them the unusually high rate of replication, which results in the infected cell’s protein manufacture machinery being overwhelmed. The full picture of how the virus and the host immune system interact to produce the staggering lethality associated with Ebolavirus infection is still not fully known, but differing host immune responses have been seen to confer an effect on survival.3

 

Further outbreaks have resulted in the discovery of a total of five different ebolavirus species:

  • Bundibugyo ebolavirus (BDBV)
  • Zaire ebolavirus (EBOV)
  • Reston ebolavirus (RESTV)
  • Sudan ebolavirus (SUDV)
  • Taï Forest ebolavirus (TAFV).

Lethality of these species ranged from 31-90%, where significant data were available.

 

The 1967 outbreaks burnt themselves out quickly, with modest barrier and quarantine regulations enough to contain the spread.

 

In part two, I’ll discuss the current outbreak, and more recent advanced in the study and treatment of ebolavirus.

 

Stay angry and limit contact with BSL-4 pathogens, my friends.

EbolaBooze selfie

 

  1. Sanchez, A., A. S. Khan, S. R. Zaki, G. J. Nabel, T. G. Ksiazek, and C. J. Peters. 2001. Filoviridae: Marburg and Ebola viruses, p. 1279-1304. In D. M. Knipe and P. M. Howley (ed.), Fields virology. Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins, Philadelphia, Pa.
  1. Ryan F. 1996, Virus X. HarperCollinsPublishers Hammersmith, London.
  1. Baize, S., E. M. Leroy, M.-C. Georges-Courbot, M. Capron, J. Lansoud-Soukate, P. Debre, S. P. Fisher-Hoch, J. B. McCormick, and A. J. Georges. 1999. Defective humoral responses and extensive intravascular apoptosis are associated with fatal outcome in Ebola virus-infected patients. Nat. Med. 5:423-426.

Ways you can go mad with power!

EbolaBooze:

AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

So many people would be purged. Seriously, I would rate at least three SI Hitlers. Maybe a hundred. Mandatory licenses for the privilege of breeding, with yearly reviews. Directed eugenics programs to increase the general fitness of humanity. Seriously, the human body is so inefficient.

Massive SCIENCE budgets. Progress at any cost. Criminals convicted of capital crimes would be experimented upon, for the good of the people. Mandatory organ donation.

Excellent uniforms of the military. Uniforms have to be both snazzy and functional.

Overwhelming, total response to any dissent. Dissenters would be publicly executed to the second generation out.

Apart from that, love, peace, and SCIENCE, I guess?

 

lorekai:

First things first I’d get myself a right fancy tiara, and wear it all the time, nothing wrong with delusions of royalty.

Then compulsory microchips, not to track people, but so that everyone would have everything they ever needed in an easily accessed database, they’d never have to search through old paperwork again.

Fancy clothes for everyone, I’d have a team of people just to make sure everyone is nicely dressed. Also UGGs and Crocs would be banned and punishable by death.

Aside from that, education for all, equal rights for everybody, and cookies for all.

 

anit the Flea:

For one I’m not really interested in worldwide domination but if I had to this would be the basis of my mostly benign reign.

Spartan armour and swanky uniforms for military.

A team of seamstresses and such at my beck and call to create anything worth making and distributing to the masses.

High standards for cruelty free farming, etc.

Freedom of education for all and the right to relocate to a country whose laws better suit your own moral system.

All people who wish to rape, murder, be raped and be murdered are to be relocated to an island state where such behaviour is legal and there are no visitors!

 

Windfyre

I’ll have to keep this one short, from a combination of sleepiness and understandable caution.  I keep accidentally chaotic evilling all over the place.

I guess I’d start with the very best of intentions, trying to solve things, but I have a feeling I’d end up some combination of /pol/ and Death Note, genociding anything I arbitrarily decide is not doing good.

Despite my intentions and my awareness of super-villian tropes, I’d be taken down relatively easily.  I would not be able to refrain from dramatic expressions, speeches and giving the opposition chances.  But I’d probably nuke a city each time a monologue was interrupted.  Monologues are important.

So in conclusion, as everyone else said, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.  And I have so many good intentions.

lorekai: Tales of Xillia 2 Review

As promised last week, this week I’ll be reviewing Tales of Xillia 2, an excellent game and what a sequel should be.

Tales_of_Xillia_2

Story:

While lacking some cohesion initially Xillia 2’s story is what a sequel to an RPG should be like, especially one with quite a closed ending like Xillia, it builds upon the pre-established world in a way that doesn’t make you wonder why some things never came up before, and treats the returning cast members in a way that makes them seem like they are there for a reason, not just because this is a sequel. The story itself is very interesting, offering both questions and answers at a consistent rate, and the cast of characters both new and old are well developed, and work well within the story, even if it is painfully obvious which characters are going to turn out evil.

That the characters are well developed actually creates some of the problems with the story, as the story is separated into main chapters and optional character chapters. While I would never say not to do the character chapters, as they add a lot to the story and offer a great deal more insight in to the characters then Xillia ever did, their frequent tone shifts, particularly early on, make the flow of the story a little awkward, and create a few instances of greatly inconsistent characterisation.

 

Gameplay:

Gameplay-wise Xillia 2 takes everything from Xillia, fixes the bad things and then polishes it to near perfection, that it is to say, it’s a very fun game. These improvements are most noticeable within the combat, they’ve taken Xillia’s fun but somewhat clunky battle system and completely revamped it, the AI has improved, link artes are more easily accessible, there are new physical weaknesses, and the awkward camera angles are gone. Furthermore the switch from the Lilium orb to the Allium orb, makes obtaining new skills and arts so much more pleasant.

One of the other areas where the differences between Xillia 1 and 2 are most apparent is in how they handle exploration, while in Xillia exploration was both story driven, and a necessity, to gather resources to level up shops, in Xillia 2 it’s very much up to the player’s own volition. The shop leveling system is gone, and while you can use the resources for synthesis, they are not nearly as necessary as they once were. Side questing does put a little bit of emphasis on exploring, and it is very helpful for certain aspects of the game, but ultimately if you didn’t want to, there are some areas you could go most of the game without seeing.

The only negative aspect of gameplay that I can think of comes from the difficulty, or lack there of. Tales of games aren’t difficult, but usually approaching endgame I’ve encountered at least one boss that has given me some sort of trouble, in this game not so much. It’s not a huge concern for a game that is otherwise excellent but it is somewhat disappointing.

 

Sound:

Hard to go wrong when they ripped pretty much everything from Xillia, very disappointing though, as the soundtrack is one of the things I look forward to the most in a new game. It’s still a good soundtrack, I enjoy hearing it, and the new pieces are excellent, it just would have been nice if there had been more of a change. I also think some different background sounds would not have been remiss, if I hear “Fresh mutton!” one more time. Aside from that there is very little I can complain about in terms of sound, even the voice acting is excellent, though it is to be expected from a Tales of game.

 

Graphics:

Again it’s hard to go wrong when they ripped pretty much everything from Xillia, and while it is a little disappointing, it is at least more forgivable then with the soundtrack. Despite how few of them there are, the new areas are nice, and had I not seen them all before, I would have been equally impressed with the returning ones, it’s a very pretty game. Also, this could just be me, but the character models seem in much better scale with the world then they did in Xillia, where they just seemed a bit to big.

 

Ranking within the series:

Vesperia > Symphonia > Xillia 2 > Xillia > The Abyss > Eternia > Graces F > Symphonia : Dawn of the New World

 

Overall:

Xillia 2 is an excellent game, and if you played Xillia, I would definitely recommend picking it up. If you haven’t played Xillia, I would still recommend it, though I would recommend playing Xillia first if you wish to derive the most enjoyment from it.

Being materialistic is fine if you have stuff

X-Box One. X-Bone. Loving how it looks on the TV cabinet.  Haven’t had time to play it, mind, but it looks really nice.  I have Ryse for me to play and Zoo Tycoon for anit.  Feelings about the games to come, but after spending the last month watching everything Yahtzee of Zero Punctuation has produced ever, my reviewability is feeling inadequate.

What I’m really looking forward to is Destiny, along with a large chunk of the gaming population.  It looks cool.  If you want more, poke your head into any gaming website on the internet.  Looks.  Cool.

What I’m also watching a lot of is World of Tanks plays.  Loving two guys at the moment (yes, passionately).  QuickyBaby and Jingles make WoT fun to watch, even though one Angry Nerd did observe that Jingles sounds like a golf commentator.  Which is true, and now I can’t un-hear it.

At the moment I’m grinding up to my KV-2, for derping good times with anit and ebola.  Hmm, I wonder how many extra hits we’ll get cos of that name at the moment?

Anyway, thanks for listening, and look forward to many more half assed reviews!

One good thing and three bad things

Be thankful for the small things, sometimes they’re all you get!

Windfyre:

Bad: Worked in a new office;

Cat pee everywhere

Realised its been a year and my posts still suck’

Good: Got my XBox One!!!

lorekai:

Bad: All alone in the house with two super, super, super, needy cats.

Daffodil sprouted in the garden, daffodil summoned storms, storms killed daffodil.

Ikebana class was cancelled, already bought flowers and harvested branches.

Good: Xillia 2! 12 hours in and still going strong.

anit the Flea:

Bad: Had mini breakdown on kitchen floor over an imagined slight by one of sisters.

Cats were generally vague in their definition of what constitutes a toilet.

Found out how ridiculously bad I am at the secret super training in Pokemon X which is my only way of getting more of certain items I need (Sun Stones mostly).

Good: I got an interview for a new job!

EbolaBooze:

Bad: Everything I did at work was one step short of perfection. I reached for the stars but instead got the skies. I wanted those damn stars, damnit!

I got sick with a cold. Cured by rice.

I got less sleep in a week than I usually get in two days.

Good: I bought a tier 10 tank in World of Tanks.

lorekai: First Impressions of Tales of Xillia 2

Time travel shenanigans!

Or at least that is what I think is going on. Either way I played through the first chapter and this game isn’t holding back, and as a result I’m going to keep this short as I want to get back to playing it.

 

Story: See the opening statement. Seems very promising so far, it’s definitely captured my interest, I want to know what is going on and I want to see how it’s all going to fit within the pre-established world.

Characters:  For the most part I like the new characters introduced so far, though Elle is slightly annoying, and it seems like they are going to be handling the returning cast members well, if Jude is anything to go by. I was quite surprised by their choice to make Ludger a mostly silent protagonist, seems an odd thing to decide in this day and age, but it’ll be interesting to see how it pans out.

Gameplay: Seems like a polished version of Xillia’s, haven’t noticed any real differences so far.

 

Now I shall return to playing, and with any luck hopefully I will have progressed far enough to give this a proper review next week. Also the collectors edition is really nice, well worth the money spent, I particularly like the pocket-watch shaped mirror.