I'd been snickering at the "ebola has gone airborne!!!" alarmists -- the trope is a rehash of one applied to AIDS/HIV and, conversely, is a sneeze not airborne enough?* -- when I realized it in fact has gone airborne, and used our passenger jets to do so.
Civilization is a disease vector. The plagues of antiquity didn't hit when culture's candle was guttering low and isolated populations of huddled villagers hardly heard from the rest of the world. Nope, you need some basic level of trade and travel, a certain population density, and a link that reaches a pool of the infected. While your circle of friends is likely to be made up of a hundred or so people, most of them in close geographical proximity, it takes only a stunningly small number of world travelers to link your circle with everyone else's -- yes, Kevin Bacon is only six hops away and I sure hope that's just hay fever his friend's friend's second cousin's babysitter has got.
Once upon a time, the Black Death came shambling down the Silk Road. These days, ebola flies coach. Don't like it? Of course not! But it comes with the territory. Once it was silk; now, it's the exotic materials in your smartphone's battery. You can't get 'em without travel.
Civilization is and has always been a race between problems and solutions -- and each solution carries with it another set of problems. Stop running and they'll overwhelm it.
* If it isn't, there's always anthrax -- but listen up: anthrax is a bacteria; forming tough, wretched little endospores that linger for decades is what it does. Ebola is a virus and like the common cold, it wants to travel from one warm wet environment to another. Roughly, ebola sticks to doorknobs while anthrax drifts on the breeze, and that right there is the useful difference between "airborne" and "not." Also? Wash your hands.
6 months ago