Every now and again on the MSM, you’ll hear a quick story on an outbreak of the flu in some far off Asian country. Serious faced news reporters will tell of deaths associated with people handling birds. The natural response of a normal gamer, ignore it. Who cares? Better start caring gamer boy.
In the eighties, the big concern among the various health agencies worldwide was an outbreak of some form of hemorrhagic fever like Ebola getting out of the wilds of Africa and infecting the human race. Hell, they even made movies about it, like “Outbreak.” Apparently, bleeding from the eyes was a horrifying way to die, so governments around the world started spending lots of money to prevent and study these types of diseases. Of course, what they failed to mention in those days was that the really big killer waiting in the wings is something most of us have had at least once in our lives. I present the Influenza virus.
For those of you unfamiliar with some facts about the biggest killer virus around, I encourage you to read up on the Spanish Flu outbreak of 1918. Most people think the Black Death in the middle Ages was a true killer, but the Flu outbreaks in the 20th Century killed more people in a shorter period of time than the Black Death. It’s estimated that 25 to 40 million people died in this outbreak in 1918. What was recently found out about this particular strain of Influenza; it was an Avian Flu variant. They found this out by digging up bodies that died from the virus in 1918/1919, and doing a little DNA mapping of the virus.
What makes the Avian Flu virus so different from the strains that we inoculate against every year is the population that it effects. Where a normal flu attacks the old (meaning grandma and grandpa) and young children, this particular virus attacks the people in the prime of their lives. That means human’s from their teens to forties. It’s also incredibly lethal with mortality rates going from 30 to 60 percent. It also appears that humanity as a whole has very little resistance to this type of bug, so standard treatment of staying home and eating chicken soup is just going to assist you in dying faster. One of the stories about the outbreak in 1918 was that a group of four women were playing bridge one evening. The next morning, three of them were dead. I’d point out that this is fairly rapid and bears a very nasty resemblance to a novel written by Stephen King, called “The Stand.”
So why bring up this particular virus now? Well, under the radar as it were, there are outbreaks happening in the Far East. Your response, “I handle game controllers, not chickens.” A few years ago, that would have probably saved your life, but now, there are sporadic outbreaks of what appear to be human to human transmittal of the virus H5N1 (Avian Flu). The virus, which is a very opportunistic creature has apparently decided that it doesn’t care for birds all that much and is now looking for a new host and transmission vector. At this time, the only people that have apparently gotten this are families that are associated with birds in some capacity, though there is a recent case in China that is a bit suspicious. In that one, a city bus driver came down with it and died and has no bird contact. All it will take for this nasty little bug to get loose in the general population is a stable airborne gene and we are off to the races with the global death party.
As an added bonus, I might point out that this is the one time that being a stereotypical gamer might not be such a bad thing. As you’re lurking in your parent’s basement, munching on your hot pocket and drinking Mountain Dew, you can be assured that the chances of you being exposed to the virus are very much reduced. Of course, as your mother and father die horrible deaths while you’re playing Battlefield 3, you might notice that it’s getting harder to find people to play multiplayer games as more socialized gamers expire, choking to death on the bloody froth in their lungs. Though to be fair you should be safe until the looters come.
If you’re interested and I’ve managed to get you a bit worried, Google H5N1 and check out the World Health Organization website on this virus, as well as the Center for Disease Control site.