It’s Here

Blog Post
Coronavirus (or the Wuhan Virus)

Based on a conversation with people on the ground in China, the virus is much worse than has been reported in the Western press. Not that I think much of the news media in the US. As with the Spanish Flu Epidemic (1918-1920), otherwise healthy young adults are dying. Usually flu epidemics claim the very young and very old. 

In the case of the Spanish Flu, the high mortality rate occurred because the virus triggered a cytokine storm, which ravaged the stronger immune system of young adults. I’m not a virologist, so I can’t offer a valid opinion. But I can speculate that something along the same lines may be happening. The Spanish Flu was said to have jumped species from birds to humans in the same way that the Coronavirus has.
In China, during the SARS epidemic of 2002-3, people suspected of having been infected were rounded up and placed in concentration camps as a potential remedy, which didn’t work. The Chinese government is considering similar measures as it continues to shut down travel from cities where infections are rampant. SARS was a coronavirus.
Again, reverting to a phone call last night, coronavirus seems to go from mild respiratory distress to pneumonia in very short order. 
Thanks China.

30 thoughts on “It’s Here

  1. And it has apparently been discovered here. I thought since I don't go to China I would be safe.

  2. One patient stateside at last report…off a plane that landed in Seattle. The real kicker is how easily does it transmit from human to human? They didn't quarantine the entire plane to my knowledge so they let loose a bunch of possible 'typhoid Marys' if it transmits easily. And I bet they didn't bother to scrub down the plane…even near his seat. Gotta get that quick turn around, ya know. So the cat is out of the bag on this one.
    We appreciate the updates Larry.

  3. It transmits very easily and the infection rate is about 100% for those exposed from what I've been told. Scary stuff.

    The Chinese are trying to stop travel between cities but it's futile at this point. The problem with people arriving from China and affected areas is that you're infectious but show no symptoms for 2-3 days before the onset of symptoms.

  4. To date the "flu season" is garden variety average this year. I spend 40+ hours a week week seeing ER patients and so far this is a typical year, meaning the flu vaccine the experts pushed hard is not particularly effective. Normal healthy people who get it are miserable for a week or so but they get over it. If/when this strain becomes widespread there will be no hiding the fact. The best we can do is stay away from crowds and public transport, wear a mask and MOST IMPORTANTLY practice scrupulous hand hygiene.

  5. It seems plenty of people agree with your assessment, LL.

    "We don't have an accurate mortality rate for this thing yet. The one guarantee I can make is that the Chinese are freaking out in that they're locking down travel right in front of the Chinese New Year, which is their traditional travel time and a huge source of tourism revenue. For them to basically shut down cities and leisure activities, including Macau, into the maw of this period of time means they've got a problem they don't have a handle on and it's worse than they're reporting, perhaps by a lot." Market Ticker

    It seems it's being traced to the bats they're eating. Bats?? Good grief. I try to be understanding of what other cultures eat and as long if it's not granny I sort of shrug. But, bats???

  6. First it was the swine flu that was going to do us all in. Then SARS came along, Zika, the chicken flu, ebola, there seems to be no end to the calamities facing us.

    That Spanish flu was a serious beastie, however. I think the deaths due to that contagion were probably under reported, and it wiped out hundreds of millions.

    The black death was a problem, too.

  7. Ya know, not being able to trust the government is a real pain in the butt sometimes. Just heard Maricopa county (Phoenix) health Dept spokesman on the radio saying human to human transmission is difficult and they don't see a problem. They are the 'experts' and may be lying to the public. Of course, at that level they are just parroting what they have been told.

  8. I guess it is the tiny small fellows that will make true impact on reducing the population currently heading towards 8 billion. It will be ugly and cause some major change.

    But what I am waiting for is when the first escatologist blame the climate and CO2 as the cause.

    LL it is true about the young and healty People. At Svalbard they recruited miners and they had to go through a thorougly medical check before leaving. Thus they had very good documentation and health records on every singel miner. And they wanted to have them young and strong to work hard. But they where the first to get sick and die.

    So LL I guess we will be the survivers. We must meet again then.

    Thanks for you updates.

  9. The flu is miserable. Apparently this one is more miserable.

    This too shall pass. But I would rather not get sick. Your advice regarding hygiene is sound.

  10. The Chinese eat anything that walks or crawls. I remember walking in the mountains west of Changsha – and nothing moved. No insects, no squirrels, no birds, nothing. It had all been scoured clean. So I'm sure that they'd eat bats. There is a joke in China. "We'd catch and eat airplanes but they fly too high and fast". The joke doesn't catch onto Western sensibilities until you frame it properly.

  11. I live in an area where I don't see many people, but I'm going to LA for work next week… so maybe I'll wear a mask and gloves. I have trained with MOP suits in the military and they are miserable…but…?

  12. I hate to be too cavalier about this when middle aged, healthy, Chinese are dropping like flies.

  13. I flew out of LAX two nights ago on the red-eye, in seat 25A. At the last minute a thick-hick Chinese woman plunked herself down in 25B and her husband in 26B. Accompanied by a bunch of other rural-sounding mainlanders (but honestly I have no idea what a Wuhan accent sounds like, so who knows their exact origin. Anyhoo …)

    Great. Both were wearing fitted black face masks, so that was something, at least. Though when I woke up this AM at 7 coughing and sneezing I had evil thoughts.

    It was not a restful night. The thick hick and her husband had two volume settings: silent and yelling loud enough to be heard in the next field. Also, about 15 minutes into the flight someone opened a container of food (I hope, or it was terrible intestinal gas) that absolutely reeked of onions and garlic. Diversity is grand. Just grand.

  14. Yep. I learned it as: "If it has four legs and a Chinaman doesn't eat it, it's a table or chair. If it has wings and a Chinaman doesn't eat it, it's an airplane." There is a modern addendum of "If it lives in the water and a Chinaman doesn't eat it, it's a submarine."

    All that said, I had no idea people are eating bats. The bat is a fortuitous animal because the word for "bat" is a homonym for the word for "good fortune/prosperity". (Also the word for "eight" rhymes with bat and prosperity, so August 8th is a great day for starting new enterprises, getting married, etc.)

  15. And now we know there's a biolab in Wuhan province specializing in ultra deadly pathogens. The French helped build it a few years back. So nothing could possibly go wrong.

    That aside, there's a case in Brazos County, TX. Our first, I think, and hopefully the last.

  16. Snakes. Their pretty positive it jumped to humans by eating a Chinese variety of cobra common to the Wuhan region.

  17. I hated MOP suits, you sweated like an out of shape sumo wrestler in those things. They seemed impregnable, though.

    We spent 10 days in Wuhan in 2002, a city of 10 million people at the time, and the thing I noticed most was the number of 20 story buildings as far as the eye could see in any direction, and none of them seemed to be inhabited; they just built them because they could. Very curious. Biggest city that nobody has ever heard of…until now.

  18. I hope that you didn't contract the coronavirus. And yes, I've smelled some of the food brought from home and opened on common carriers – mainly trains, but airplanes too. It smells like fermented owl shit usually.

  19. A lot of those buildings are unsafe, uninhabitable. They stood vacant for years but too much sand in the concrete…

  20. On the bright side, these things almost never (like, never in my life) live up to the hype. Some folks die, sure – but it's never as statistically dangerous say, as driving to work, or climbing a ladder.

    Once in a while we get 1918, and you never know if this one's gonna be it, but here in the West, we all have access to over-the counter medication and real medical care that was unimaginable back then. For example, aspirin was still rare in 1918, because we hadn't gotten the German formula as a reparation yet.

    I'll save my worrying for until/if it gets to be a significant problem here.

    -Kle.

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