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Page #24

Q: No, I would think Ebola or Marburg would be far more likely to do real damage.

MA: I believe I disagree. While Ebola and Marburg are very deadly bugs, they are rare and geographically contained.

Q: What about Reston?

MA: Yes, there was a huge potential for an outbreak in that situation, but even if Ebola Reston proved lethal to humans - the old tried and true measures of isolation, barrier nursing and containment would have prevailed. It is a matter of how easily the virus spreads.

Ebola is extremely deadly but difficult to catch. If you spend a lot of time butchering primates, then you have some serious infectious issues, but even then it is just not that easy to transmit.

The most common vector is actually preparing the dead.

MA: That is not to say that strange things couldn't happen and mutation or biological warfare or some nut job could really cause problems but it is largely just a very rare and distant medical oddity - no, Influenza is far more threatening than that.

Q: O.K. the flu is much more dangerous because of how easily it spreads.

MA: That and the introduction of new strains to a naive population can have devastating effects.

Do you see any other pathogens as being very dangerous to the species as a whole?

Q: Well...... how about SARS?

MA: SARS gave us quite a startle; I must admit that for a brief few weeks there was a very dark cloud hanging over health care workers of all stripes.

But, in the end the application of the most basic nursing techniques - Barrier Nursing - was enough to crush the outbreak. I might mention that contact tracing was, and will always be, a necessity in these types of outbreaks.

But on balance SARS is now just another notch on our collective gun belts.

Q: To me those are the major players, I don't know of anything else that raises red flags or is in any way "scary".

MA: What about AIDS?

Q: AIDS? My thoughts are that unless you live in Africa or participate in very risky sexual activity then it is a moot point.

MA: I don't believe that is quite accurate; however I will grant you that it is the normal mindset.

What do you know about the pathogen that causes AIDS?