Every year about this time, we begin to hear warnings about the “flu”. The warnings flow from the colder weather, but sometimes we also hear warnings about the “bird flu”–a particular variety of “avian influenza” that’s slowly spreading across Asia and will spread around the world based largely on the fact that birds can fly.
In theory, the bird flu is most contagious on a global basis whenever some species of birds migrate from one nation or even continent to another in the Fall and back again in the Spring.
Once the migrating birds reach their Winter home or their Summer home, they stay more-or-less in that place. Other “local” birds may pick up whatever disease the migrating birds are carrying. Those diseases can ultimately reach the local people.
The “bird flu” is scary because it can be communicated intercontinentally by birds.
The “747 flu,” however is far more dangerous. By “747 flu” I mean any of those contagious diseases (like Ebola, but not limited to Ebola) that can be transmitted by aircraft across oceans and continents in a matter of hours.
Witness Thomas Duncan–the Liberian who contracted Ebola–and who, by flying in a commercial jet, moved Ebola from Africa to North America, in a matter of hours.
Ebola has not yet been shown to be highly contagious in the US. One man brought the disease to the US. He allegedly had contact with roughly 100 other people who are being closely monitored. But, so far, there is only one report, so far, of Ebola having possibly spread from Duncan to someone else in the US.
I.e, there’s a Dallas County sheriff’s deputy who had no direct contact with Duncan, but who did enter the apartment where Duncan had been staying–without any protective gear.
How many police and paramedics are now afraid to enter a home, apartment or pubic facility to arrest or detain someone who is suspected of having Ebola? Do you think there could be any effective martial law in a nation beset by a truly virulent strain of Ebola–or any other highly contagious and lethal disease?
Nevertheless, even though there’s only one report, so far, of Ebola contagion, the fact remains that, thanks to a 747, Ebola traveled nearly 6,000 miles in half a day.
If Ebola were as contagious as first feared, we could already have seen outbreaks of that disease in major cities around the world based on air transportation. We haven’t yet seen those outbreaks.
Thus, so far, Ebola does not appear to be as contagious in the US as it first seemed to be in West Africa.
But, you can bet that, sooner or later, a truly contagious disease is going to “hop a jet” and travel from Africa, or South America, or even Chicago–and quickly spread around the world. Logic tells us that there will be a global pandemic at some point in the future that will propagate around the world at half the speed of sound thanks to 747 and other commercial airliners.
The threat of such pandemics is not theoretical. According to Flu.gov,
“Illness from the 1918 flu pandemic, also known as the ‘Spanish flu,’ came on quickly. Some people felt fine in the morning but died by nightfall. People who caught the Spanish Flu but did not die from it often died later from complications caused by bacteria, such as pneumonia.
“Approximately 20% to 40% of the worldwide population became ill.
“An estimated 50 million people died.
“Nearly 675,000 people died in the United States.
“Unlike earlier pandemics and seasonal flue outbreaks, the 1918 pandemic flu saw high mortality rates among healthy adults. In fact, the illness and mortality rates were highest among adults 20 to 50 years old. The reasons for this remain unknown.”
Over a century has passed since the Spanish flu outbreak and we still don’t understand exactly what happened. That level of ignorance is scary.
According to Answers.com,the global population in A.D. 1918 was about 1.8 billion, and between 50 and 199 million died from the Spanish flu. That means somewhere between 2.5% and 11% of the world population died. If an equally contagious and lethal disease struck today, we could see 700 million fatalities globally.
In A.D.1918, the US population was about 100 million and 675,000 reportedly died. That’s only about 0.7% of the population. Still, according to Demographica, A.D. 1918 was the only year between 1900 and 1999 when the US population actually declined. Because of the Spanish flu, we had more deaths than births.
Some people might suppose that today’s improved sanitation and medical care could prevent a modern pandemic comparable to the 1918 Spanish Flu.
I’d disagree. I’d say that because more of the world lives in urban environment where they’re packed together “cheek and jowl,” once a truly contagious disease breaks loose, it would move so fast that nothing could stop it from running its course other than the Good LORD.
I’d also disagree with the belief that our modern medical knowledge could stop a real pandemic because, thanks to the “747 Flu,” a truly contagious disease could infect 90% of the globe within days. I.e., we wouldn’t see a problem that started in West Africa, was generally isolated, and so slow-moving that we could plan to eventually send in 3,000 US soldiers to contain the problem. We’d see a disease that could start anywhere and “fly” around the world in 747s so quickly that global medical facilities would be overwhelmed in matter of days and there’d be no medical care for 90% of the population.
The “747 Flu” is more dangerous than the bird flu because:
1) The 747 flu can move at 500 miles per hour (migrating birds can’t fly more than 500 miles per day);
2) The 747 flu can move across continents and oceans on a daily and hourly basis, throughout the year (bird flu generally migrates only twice year).
Sooner or later, some variety of the “747 Flu” is going to reduce the US and global populations suddenly and dramatically.
While we wait for that inevitability, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to strengthen your immune system, stock up on antibiotics and mineral supplements offset the effects of diarrhea, and get right with the Good LORD.
Ebola may not be as contagious as some fear. But it illustrates just how vulnerable the veil of civilization really is. The whole world could be set back several centuries in a matter of months.
I don’t know that anyone can truly “prepare” to really deal with a global pandemic. But if you could prepare with enough supplies to get you through the first six months or a year, you might be able to survive while much of the rest of the world were dying.