America is in a weird place right now statistically. Ebola is higher than ISIS, Education, Lack of Money, Poverty, Hunger, Homelessness, Terrorism, Race relations, Racism, Crime, and violence on the list of fears people have as of October 2014. This to me is awfully strange for one major reason: The way you acquire it.
You contract Ebola by touching the Blood, Feces, or Vomit of someone infected. This fear alarms me because I didn’t realize that vast numbers of Americans were swapping poop, blood, and vomit? Is this a new thing? Did a trend slip by that I missed? Is this like the new twerking?
Ebola can’t survive very long outside of the body. It’s basically insta-fucked if it ends up anywhere dry. “But what about sweat?!” You might be thinking. That’s true you could in theory get enough Ebola into sweat to get someone else sick by touching it. The caveat is that you’d need to be so sick that you aren’t walking anywhere. The only point where you become an honest-to-god contagion risk is when you are incapacitated. This is one of the reasons that this is spreading in Africa. They don’t have proper systems to take care of both people and corpses that are infected with the disease so it spreads.
Spreading it in the US is literally more difficult than spreading AIDS. At least with the latter disease you can not know you have it and still transmit it. Ebola isn’t doing much of anything to people around you until you start showing symptoms. By then you are proper fucked and nobody wants to be around you anyways. Because even if it isn’t Ebola it is Influenza and nobody in their right mind wants that. Influenza is also much more contagious (and kills more people yearly).
The only people in the US that should be afraid of Ebola are people that wantonly trade feces, blood, or vomit with other people. If you aren’t doing these things you are as safe today as you were ever in the past (as far as Ebola is concerned). You’ll die from a car crash, plane crash, or a lightning strike before Ebola takes you down. Dying in a car accident is more likely than even knowing someone who knows someone who has it.
But since you are here and we are talking about death and viruses how do you create the perfect virus? I’m not talking about the philosophical viruses like fear. That’s pretty clear cut on spread and contagion rates. This Ebola phenomenon in the US is a grand example of the contagious level of 24 hour news. Fear spreads because fear is profitable. But no, I’m talking about a literal super bug.
What’s the most important thing to consider with a disease? It’s a matter of balance. The first thing you must consider is that the disease must accomplish one or more of the following things:
1) It must infect as close to one other person as possible. If it infects more than one person (on average) then everyone in the world will have it. Assuming a perfect distribution of people and interaction. This is bad because then everyone builds an immunity to it. If you must be super infectious then you’ll want to establish a rock solid #2 and/or #3.
2) It should mutate frequently. This is important because a disease that doesn’t mutate is likely to kill itself off. Alternatively any disease that doesn’t frequently mutate is going to find itself getting annihilated by Vaccines. At least this was true before enough people went full retard.
3) It should have a long gestation period before symptoms are shown. This is where diseases like HIV shine. They spend a long time “dormant” giving the host a lot of time to spread them. Then when they trigger they’ve already finished their evolutionary imperative.
4) It should have a low mortality rate. If you kill your host you can’t transmit to other hosts. This can sometimes be overcome by being extremely contagious but even then these diseases tend to obliterate an entire population and then vanish from the face of the earth. Diseases like the Plague just don’t really do well in the long term. They wash over like locusts and then vanish. You want to inconvenience your host not kill them. Various STI’s fall into this category and Herpes (like chickenpox).
There are other things naturally. I’m sure someone has written a much better and more definitive guide. Something to consider is that diseases like Ebola also live on animals that are non-human. In these cases they cannot be completely eradicated by time. You are more likely to beat them with a vaccine. Folks who don’t want to get the vaccine are probably better off not getting it. (Though this raises concerns about people endangering their children, but that’s a topic for another day).
In the grand scheme of things Ebola is less dangerous than walking up and down a flight of stairs. In the US at least this is very literal with hundreds of times more people dying from it. Technically infinitely more people if nobody has died here from Ebola yet (I can’t recall if anyone has but I believe the answer is no).
That’s the thing about viruses. You want to infect just enough people to keep moving. You don’t want to kill them. Diseases that do kill people require very very efficient mechanisms to transfer around or else they risk boom and bust cycles. Malaria being an incredibly destructive disease (likely the largest killer of humans in all of history). If it weren’t for mosquitoes this virus would be completely fucked. It’s just too deadly. But because it has little carriers that can carry it from host to host, without the hosts themselves even needing to move, it thrives.
Kill the mosquitoes and Malaria dies.
Don’t touch other people’s poop, vomit, or blood and Ebola dies [In the US. It’s more complicated in Africa.]
Stop watching 24 Hour news and fear dies.
Every disease has a cure. Sometimes that cure is as simple as don’t play with poop.