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Viruses can Network Also?

This summer was filled with big budget Hollywood flicks staring idolized heroes ranging from Thor to the Green Lantern to Jack Sparrow fighting evil forces threatening humanity. However, the summer is officially over and to kick start the somber Hollywood Season of fall is the film Contagion. The premise of this movie is a virus coming close to wiping out all of humanity. The scary aspect of this movie is the fact that such a phenomenon can actually happen as experts weigh in on the validity of such an apocalypse. Carolyn Bridges of the Centers for Disease Control comments that in 1918 half a million Americans died from the flu pandemic and it was able to reach 70 countries within 6 weeks. (Bridges, Fox Atlanta)  Granted that medicine was not as developed as it is today, the amount of transportation and human contact on a global scale has increased dramatically. Globalization and deforestation has set the stage for virus transportation and networking. The world is more connected than ever as a bat in a cave in a Chinese forest can transfer a virus to a nearby pig farm. The pig in return can be transferred to his handler. His handler can then travel to Honk Kong and the virus has hit the jackpot and can multiply instantaneously. In the movie, one of the vital ways to curtail the virus was shutting down major airports like JFK in New York and LAX in California. Local buses and trains were shut down and market places and shopping malls were barren.  The very shocking scenes of no human life can be compared to scenes from the Planet of the Apes however; such a reality can be plausible in today’s world. One of the main professional pathology consultants for the makers of the movie is Professor Lipkin of Columbia University. He compares the deserted scenes to when he visited China during the SARS outbreak of 2003. How can we prevent such a scenario happening in the future?  Besides washing ones hand and performing practical cleanliness, a curb of deforestation in developing countries can stop the jump from wildlife to humans. Viruses like any form of wildlife are a part of the network of living organism on this planet even though we cannot see them with the naked hand. We must show due diligence and improve our response rate to such pandemics to ensure a survival of our species.



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