I think we are at a slight disadvantage with ebola. When the Spanish made it to the New World they took their diseases, and they devastated the local population. Now with Ebola we in the west have no built in immunity, so we could be hit harder than they are in Africa. Africa has had Ebola for a long time so the people their will have more immunity than we have. Anyway they way it looks their might be a vaccine out soon. It does not look like the inoculation method, first used with smallpox, will be any good for Ebola. There is no mild strain of ebola that we could use for inoculation.
There is one serious glaring problem with vaccines and Ebola. And that is Ebola evolves very fast and would probably evolve ahead of a vaccine. With Ebola it is fast, not slow moving like syphilis, and not disfiguring like smallpox or syphilis for that matter. More like the black death and the 1918 flu or even a hantavirus.
If the Hantavirus ever decided to go human to human transmission, or the Cocoliztli decided to stage a comeback, we would think Ebola was something like a walk in the park. It is estimated the Cocoliztle killed 16 out of every 20 people, Ebola is only 50%. It has been suggested that the Cocoliztle could have been airborne Hantavirus. But we wont know until it comes back.. The Cocoliztle surfaced after a time of prolonged drought. So at that time there might have been a plague of mice. Rodents carry the Hantavirus, and since there was more to eat the mice could have reached plague proportions causing the horrific death rate. Rodents tend to over populate depending on the food supply.
Ebola and Cocoliztle are both VHF or Viral Hemorrhagic Fever, but the Hantavirus is a Hemorrhagic fever with a twist, it also has renal failure syndrome (HFRS). Slightly different and I have no idea what the difference is. The Hantavirus comes under the friendly fire virus regime and all that is, is your body’s response to the virus is what kills you, so you do not develop immunity. Therefore vaccines will not be effective.
There are a number of cases throughout history where diseases do not confer immunity. The sweating sickness was a plague that hit England at the time of Henry the 8th and there was no immunity. The Justinian Plague that brought the Roman Empire to its knees did not give you immunity. Emperor Justin had it three times before he finally succumbed to the disease. DNA tests on skeletons have revealed that that disease was the Black Death. Before that it was suggested it could have been Ebola. The plague is still with us and I don’t know if we still do not develop immunity.
Does Ebola confer immunity, if so why aren’t the people who have survived not working in the hospitals. They wont need Hazmat suits. Has anybody had ebola twice. Did anyone get the 1918 flu twice. What about SARS. SARS was the ideal wolf of mankind, it usually only took out the old and the infirm. Healthy people did not seem to be overly affected and usually survived.
Now we also have to look at the economic effect of a very contagious disease in our neighborhood. Our society is so entwined that if we have one breakdown in the supply chain the whole chain breaks. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.
For example bread, in the days of the Black Death, bread was the farmer–miller–baker–yeast man–wood for fire man-horse and cart man–and probably a few others I don’t know about. Compared to today I wouldn’t have a clue how many links there are in the bread chain. So when Ebola gets here we run out of bread and everything else.
We got problems, serious problems. If the electric grid goes down we got huge problems, and if the water stops running we are in a society collapse situation. But throughout history massive pandemics did not collapse society, they caused severe problems but cities and society continued.
Except after Columbus got to the New World. Between the Old World diseases and the Cocoliztle the peoples of Central America were wiped out. Even today the population in Central America is less than before Columbus arrived..The Aztec and the Maya are a people clinging onto their culture. Yet before the clash of the Old World they were the empire of the Americas. They had the biggest cities and the biggest pyramids, and they were wiped out by “Guns Germs and Steel”
Look on the bright side. It will definitely cure the unemployment problem and the obesity problem all in one. After the Black Death there was competition for labor as there was a lot less working age people left alive and the price of labor went up. To get workers you had to pay more. Emperor Justin had the same problem, there were not enough workers for the harvest, so he forbid workers to leave their place of employment. But there were not enough people left alive to enforce the decree. And with not enough workers for the harvest then the invariable famine would follow. At the moment in the Ebola ridden lands everyday services and food distribution is already breaking down,
Now what will happen if and when Ebola hits a city near you. After the 1918 pandemic cities and countries didn’t collapse, they carried on, small towns and villages collapsed as people moved away. Life went on, food kept coming in, people didn’t starve they might have gone hungry, basic services kept going. Now with Ebola we hope the same will happen, no major collapse of civilization.
Mother Nature can wipe us out with droughts, famines, floods, earthquakes, tidal waves and whatever, but with pandemics the infrastructure is still in place. There are just a few less people around to run the place.