January 7th, 2009


In other news, plague.

Researchers have found out what made the 1918 flu pandemic so deadly. Because that's always a good idea. Basically, there's a three-gene sequence which tells the virus go 'you know what? The upper respiratory tract is dull. Let's go have a party in the lungs!' This leads to pneumonia, which leads to death. And since it's viral pneumonia, rather than bacterial pneumonia, it's both droplet-based and unperturbed by silly little things like antibiotics. Whee!

To quote the article: "The three genes -- called PA, PB1, and PB2 -- along with a 1918 version of the nucleoprotein or NP gene, made modern seasonal flu kill ferrets in much the same way as the original 1918 flu, Kawaoka's team found." Now. Maybe I'm being a little silly here, but does building a better flu really sound like a good idea? To anybody? I've read The Stand. I don't feel like moving to Colorado. I love pandemics in history and in theory, but I'd really rather not have 'They Fucked Around With Flu' stamped on mankind's collective tombstone.

In other news, small boys still hold firecrackers in their bare hands, because maybe this time, it's going to go differently.