SO WHAT ABOUT THIS EBOLA BUSINESS?

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image8272816The deadly Ebola virus has been making headlines recently, especially in Atlanta, Georgia, where two Ebola victims from western Africa will be placed in an isolation unit at Emory University Hospital. Emory, by the way, is adjacent to the main campus of the Centers for Disease Control, the CDC.

Some people are quite concerned that we now have “Ebola in America.” While it’s front-page worthy news, the reality is the situation doesn’t present a threat to the general public. Ebola, though exceptionally virulent, is not easily transmitted. It’s passed from person to person only through close personal contact. You’d have to be exposed to a victim’s blood, urine, vomit, etc., before you’d be a candidate for contracting the disease.

Ebola isn’t like the flu, for instance, which can be transmitted through the air or by touching objects that a victim has handled. In other words, Ebola isn’t an airborne disease . . . except in my novel, PLAGUE.

In PLAGUE, my antagonist, a rogue microbiologist, bioengineers the virus into a weaponized airborne form. The novel, ironically, is set in Atlanta.

So, an airborne form? Yes, there may be such a thing. In the late 1980s, there was an Ebola outbreak among lab monkeys in Reston, Virginia. It was thought that it may have been an airborne form of the virus that triggered the flare-up. Fortunately for us, that particular strain of Ebola turned out to be non-fatal to humans. The monkeys weren’t so lucky.

At any rate, that event became the basis for the bioengineering feat in PLAGUE: marrying an airborne, non-lethal (to humans) form of Ebola to a strain deadly to humans, such as that currently ravaging western Africa.

Be assured, that’s the stuff of fiction, however. I have no knowledge that anyone, friend or foe, is actually attempting–or has ever attempted–to do that.

The really scary thing about Ebola is that there’s no vaccine, no cure, not even an established treatment protocol. Death by Ebola is god-awful. Here’s a character in PLAGUE, Dr. Dwight Butler, a virologist at the CDC, talking about it:

“Ebola attacks your body’s blood-clotting capabilities with particular ferocity. It goes after your major organs, devastating your kidneys, liver and spleen. You’re racked with crippling fatigue, agonizing pain, boiling fever. Your eyeballs become blood red. Your throat turns mushy and raw . . . to the point you can’t even swallow your own saliva. And there’s absolutely nothing that can help you.” He paused. “Not even prayer.”

Ebola is terrifying, but here in America, you’re more likely to win the Mega Millions Lottery than get struck down by Ebola.

 

Comments

  1. Mike McMackin says

    Buzz,
    Good information. I thought of you and the book when all this became front page news!

  2. Hi Buzz,
    I remember meeting you at SWA a few years ago. Since reading your book titled PLAGUE I felt I should contact you and tell you how impressed I am with your writing. It is one of those books you just continue reading until 3:00 am, wake up with a headache and too few hours of sleep, then repeat the same thing the next evening.
    Many thanks for providing an excellent read.
    Margaret

    • Buzz Bernard says

      Thanks, Margaret. My goal is to keep readers engaged and turning pages, while at the same time perhaps learning something

      Come back to SWA! Gonna be a great workshop in 2015.

      Regards, Buzz Bernard

  3. I love your books! What more can I say. Hoping you will write some more books. I read two of them so far. Once I start reading I can’t put them down. Your books touch on everything I’m fascinated by, weather and medicine.
    Thank you!

    • Buzz Bernard says

      Thanks, Molly. I’ve got three novels out so far and just finished the manuscript for a fourth and am awaiting a contract for it. In the meantime, I’ve begun writing number five. I appreciate your taking time to drop me note. Hope you remain a fan.

      Regards, Buzz Bernard

      • Molly Kelly says

        Your welcome.

        • Molly Kelly says

          Hello Mr. Bernard,
          I have a question for you. Can ebola mutate to where it is airborne? This is making me very nervous.
          I just started reading Eyewall. Love it!

          • I’m not an expert in Ebola, but from what I understand (reading what the real experts say), the answer is that it would be highly unlikely, if not impossible, for Ebola to mutate to an airborne variety. Apparently there is no record of a virus that is transmitted by non-aerosol means mutating to one that can contracted through the air.

  4. Molly Kelly says

    Thank you! I am very relieved. I was very worried about that.
    This whole ebola thing is kind of unreal, like reading a medical thriller, only it’s really here in the U.S. I read “The Hot Zone” many years ago and it terrified me. Had a feeling it would some day break out in the U.S., just a matter of time. And I am somewhat skeptical when the CDC claim they have it under control.

  5. Molly Kelly says

    Hello Mr. Bernard,
    I’ve read all of your books. When is a new one coming out? At the moment I live in the “boonies” due to my job, and there are no bookstores here except used bookstores without much to choose from. I love to read and your books are awsome.

    • Hi Molly,

      Last I heard, my newest novel, BLIZZARD, is scheduled out in February. I don’t have an exact date for publication yet, but when I do, I’ll post it on my website.

      Happy Thanksgiving!

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